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SPECTATOR 


Every Other Week 


Edited by WELFORD BEATON 


Fourteenth Year 


Los Angeles, California — April 29, 1939 


Vol. 14— No. 2 


F 


ditor Discusses Relative Box- 
Office Value of Love and Ad- 
miration as Star Assets . . . . 
Advises Film Industry to Make 
Real Motion Picture as an Ex- 
periment . . . Dr. Ussher Dis- 
cusses "Man of Conquest" Music 
. . . Same Picture Analysed also 
for Study . . . Spectator's New 
Format Praised. 


REVIEWED 
See Page 8 


Sorority House • Calling Dr. Kildare 
Stolen Life • Big Town Czar 

The Return of the Cisco Kid ® 


The Hardys Ride High 
• Blind Alley 

The Lady's From Kentucky 


HOI 

years. $8 ; 

PAGE 


Ten To 
One • • • 

_/"\.mong the Spectator's paid sub- 
scribers are more schools, colleges 
and libraries than any other film 
publication in the United States can 
show, and more than ten times the 
combined such circulation of all the 
other film papers published in 
Hollywood. 


>f 


LYWOOD SPECTATOR, published bi-weekly at Los Angeles. Calif., by Hollywood Spectator Co.. 6513 Hollywood Blvd. ; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price. $5 the year; two 
foreign $6. Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter, September 23. 1938. at the Post Office at Los Angeles. Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3. 1879. 

TWO HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 







"//tom, the 

EDITORS EflSV CHAIR 


Sunday Afternoon 
And An Actor 

O UR Sunday afternoon guests were one of the really 
great screen actors and his wife. He came to pictures 
from the stage upon which he had been a brilliant suc- 
cess, and has made himself notable among those appear- 
ing on the screen. He is a delightful companion, has an 
engaging personality and a lazy-drawlish way of talking 
that is part of it. His pictures are cinematic events; his 
performances always are awarded the praise of critics. 
While we sat in the shade of a locust tree, smoking our 
pipes and engaging in desultory conversation, we ulti- 
mately, of course— as is the way in Hollywood — got 
around to motion pictures. 

"I've been waitin'," he said, with the delightful disre- 
gard for the final “g" which makes his drawl so musical, 
"to tell you you're all wet when you say the screen's not 
an actin' art and that it has nothin' to learn from the 
stage." 

While he rambled on and I occasionally put in my bit 
of contrary argument, the thought came to me that if he 
could give as perfect a screen performance in a picture 
as he was giving on my lawn, he would be much nearer 
than he is to the top of the film box-office list. 

His Greatest Performance 

<1 My friend is one of those whose bank account is fat- 
tened by Hollywood, but whose heart belongs to Broad- 
way. I charge him with it and he amiably agrees with 
me. He — as I have said — is recognized as a great screen 
actor, yet on the box-office list his name is far below 
those of Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Jane Withers 
and many more who never saw the up-stage side of the- 
atre footlights. And the reason is that each of them gives 
on the screen exactly the kind of performance my friend 
was giving on my lawn and never gives on the screen. 
On the lawn he was completely natural. On the screen 
he is a stage actor. 

His stage diction, which he brings to the screen to- 
gether with the gestures and grace of movement the stage 
has taught him, has careful regard for every "g" and pre- 
cise enunciation of every syllable. Such stage technique, 
however, was not developed to make stage dialogue 
pleasant to listen to. The reason was a more practical 
one; to make it possible for the audience to hear stage 
dialogue. 

Master of Stage Technique 

<1 If my friend had dropped his ”g's" on the stage as he 
did on my lawn, if he had spoken on the stage in the 
same lazy drawl, only the people in a few front rows 
could have understood what he was saying. It was the 
necessity for projecting the voice which made precise 
enunciation an essential element of stage technique, 
enunciation which is the hall-mark of the actor. It is my 
friend's mastery of the art of the stage which makes his 
fans so loyal to him, but Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney 
and Jane Withers have individual armies of fans, each 
of which greatly outnumbers the famous actor's. 

The famous actor expresses on the screen his mastery 
of the technique he learned on the stage. There he 


teamed how to project sorrow to his audience, to make 
his audience believe he really felt it, and the audience 
was too far from him to see if it were reflected in his eyes, 
the windows through which we see inward emotions. 
When Shirley Temple feels sorrow, she feels it and lets 
the camera make us aware of it. 

Love and Admiration 

^J We know Shirley and Jane and Mickey. The public 
does not know the famous actor. I have discussed him 
too frankly to tell you who he is, but if any of his fans 
who admire him as an artist had seen him rolling on our 
lawn, wrestling with my delighted Spaniel, they probably 
would have concluded that he was drunk; his actions 
being so foreign to the impression he conveys on the 
screen, no other conclusion would seem reasonable. The 
public loves Shirley. It admires my friend. And figures 
show that love has greater box-office value than ad- 
miration. 

Yet a heading in the Examiner this morning reads, 
"Metro Seeking Orson Welles for Role of Dictator Wind- 
rip." And only yesterday the same paper told us that 
Metro's chief executives were concerned greatly over 
dwindling box-office receipts. No doubt a picture in 
which Welles appears would be a great artistic success, 
but it still would be up to Mickey Rooney to bring home 
the bacon. Metro is catering to a motion picture market, 
and a photograph of stage technique is not a motion 
picture. 

★ ★ ★ 

Why Not Experiment? 

E WERE told in a recent radio broadcast how many 
millions of dollars automobile manufacturers spent in 
experiments to develope an unbreakable glass. Another 
broadcast told of the enormous sums spent by General 
Electric in efforts to increase the efficiency of its lamps. 
All industrial progress has been the product of long and 
expensive experimentation. The film industry is the only 
one in the country which does not make experiments. It 
originated neither the sound device nor the improvements 
which have brought it to its present stage of perfection. 
Its cameras and its lighting equipment are products of 
concerns outside the industry. The prevailing lassitude 
of film box-offices would seem to point to the present as a 
time when it would be wise for the industry to risk a little 
money in making an experiment which possibly would 
result in restoring vigor to box-offices. Any student of 
the screen knows it is an art form which, if it is to be 
true to itself, must express itself in visual terms. Any 
student of the art knows the industry's customers will be 
satisfied with less than perfection, that it will accept the 
alien element of spoken lines to expedite the telling of the 
stories it pays to see. The same student will tell you pre- 
vailing unsatisfactory box-office conditions are due to the 
overdose of dialogue the public is getting. 

Make Real Motion Picture 

<jj What seems the wise thing for the film industry to do 
now is to spend a little money in making an experiment. 

I know it will terrify the bravest producer to suggest he 
should make a real motion picture and try it on the pub- 
lic, but that is precisely what I suggest. The only idea 



APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE THREE 


developed within the industry to stimulate box-cilice re- 
ceipts — the movie quizz contest — having proved a mag- 
nificent bust, it might be wise for it to accept a sugges- 
tion from the outside. If one producing organization is not 
brave enough to try the suggestion the Spectator ad- 
vances, no doubt all the others could be persuaded to 
chip in until the production kitty became big enough to 
bear the cost of making just one picture that would be 
as true as is practical to its art medium, which would say 
more with its camera and less with the microphone, and 
in a large measure restore to the film theatre the peace 
and quiet which built the foundation upon which the 
entire industry now rests. The two billion dollars which 
rests on the foundation could be made secure by under- 
pinning it with the kind of product the industry will make 
when it acquires knowledge of the nature of the business 
it is supposed to be in. 

★ ★ ★ 

Can Do Nothing About It 

HILE the Spectator has no apologies to make for any 
opinion it expresses and will stand staunchly behind 
any statement it makes, it can go no farther than that in 
assuming responsibility for the effect of its utterances. I 
am impelled to make such statement because of the 
alarming possibilities suggested by a message the mail- 
man brings me in the handwriting of an Oakland, Cali- 
fornia, subscriber, Barbara L. Bowman. It says, "The 
Spectator has just arrived, and as usual I am reading it 
instead of washing the breakfast dishes." If the writer is 
a Miss, living alone, there is no menace for the Spectator 
personnel in her neglect of her household duties, but if 
married, and perhaps to a fussy husband who can de- 
rive no esthetic pleasure from gazing on a pile of un- 
washed dishes, 1 wish to assure him the situation is one 
he will have to handle himself without dragging the 
Spectator into it. This paper regards itself as a crusader 
in a noble cause, and it cannot be swerved from its pur- 
pose by thoughts of egg stains hardening and marmal- 
ade congealing on dishes which need washing. 

★ ★ ★ 

Fame That Jack Built 

ETRO has made a discovery. It has put Jack Mulhall 
under contract. A decade ago Jack was a reigning 
favorite. He never lost the quality which made him popu- 
lar, but got trampled underfoot in the screen's mad rush 
for stage talent when pictures began to talk, a folly for 
which it now is paying in the form of constantly lessening 
box-office receipts. There are other Jack Mulhalls scat- 
tered through Hollywood, half of them women, and: it 
would pay all the studios to do some discovering. 

* ★ ★ 

Ray Golden Wanted to See It 

RARE theatrical treat was provided when Ray Golden 
and Everett Weil presented "Our Town" at Biltmore 
Theatre. It was daring of Thornton Wilder to take such a 
revolutionary step in dramatic writing, and much to the 
credit of Jed Harris to give it a New York production. 
How the play happened to get a Los Angeles showing is 
an interesting story. When Jed Harris was out here re- 
cently, Ray Golden urged the New York producer to send 
us the play, if for no other reason than that he, Ray, 
wanted to see it and did not have time to go to New 
York. "Well," said Jed, "bring it out yourself and have a 
look at it." And that is what Ray did. "Our Town" is one 
greatly human document I hope no picture producer will 
bring to the screen. The fine fabric which Wilder fash- 
ioned would have to be tortured to meet the demands of 
the camera for visual attractiveness. It is a play which 
belongs solely to the stage. However, it introduces to us 
in Martha Scott a talented and beautiful girl with great 
screen possibilities. And it reminds us that we would 


like to see more frequent appearances in pictures of 
Frank Craven and Ann Shoemaker, both of whom give 
superlative performances in the play. 

★ ★ ★ 

To Tell Secret of Getting In 

S EEMS the public is becoming conscious that the film 
industry offers careers in something besides acting. 
The Spectator always had had plenty of mail asking it 
how the writers can get a chance to start acting careers, 
but for the last year it has received a steadily increasing 
number of requests for information about other openings. 
Some women have asked how they can get work in 
studios as designers of gowns for the stars, and one San 
Francisco woman asks how she can get started on a 
career as a film editor. We have heard from men who 
want to be art directors, cameramen, assistant directors, 
sound recorders, casting directors, still photographers, 
but, of course, most of those who write us want to direct 
pictures. It has been our practice to answer personally 
all such inquiries. But we have thought of a new plan. 
We do not know what one should do to get a job in pic- 
tures, but we can tell our readers how others got started, 
and that is what we intend to do. Our chunky Robert 
Watson is buzzing around interviewing people who now 
have jobs, directors, writers, technicians, cameramen. 
One man, for instance, owes a good job in pictures to 

★ * ★ 

the fact that in Texas at one time he slept with a cobra 
to keep it warm. I think he is the only one who got in 
that way. However, beginning in the next Spectator we 
will publish a series of How-I-Got-Ins which should be 
interesting. 

Less Talk, More News 

ADIO broadcasting could do with a little more show- 
manship. My pet peeve now is the manner in which 
news is broadcast. Walter Winchell is the only one who 
seems to know how a radio commentator should operate. 
He gets the greatest possible number of news items into 
the time allowed him, consequently he has the greatest 
audience. He skims over the news, recently including 
twenty-seven items in his broadcast. I checked one of 
Pat Bishop's turns on the air. In a longer net time than is 
ing us the full names and titles of law officers who 
accorded Winchell, Pat presented eight news items, in one 
instance carrying his love for detail to the extent of giv- 
crrrested an uninteresting criminal in an eastern city. All 
the other local news commentators have the same weak- 
ness. That is why Walter Winchell comes as a relief on 
Sunday nights. 

* * * 

La Hepburn a Hit 

O UR little Katy Hepburn has made the East sit up and 
take notice. She was not an outstanding success on 
the screen, but each of her appearances made one feel 
she had the stuff it takes and would be a success if only 
she could overcome whatever it was that was barring 
her progress. Her career on the stage was much the 
same, criticisms of her performances being more adverse 
than favorable. But at last she has made a real hit and 
no doubt before long will be back in Hollywood again. I 
quote from Stage, the excellent New York magazine 
which for years had been a monthly and now appears 
twice a month: 

"To Miss Hepburn the theatre should give the special 
wreath of absolution that it reserves for actors who re- 
deem themselves nobly. There is nothing, in fact, that 
could be said against her performance in The Phila- 
delphia Story.' It is extremely sincere and fresh and 
lovely. It has none of the monotony and none of the 
equine mannerisms that have annoyed her detractors. 
Of course she still speaks with her particular brand of 






PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Bryn Mawr Cockney, but it is both charming and appro- 
priate. Costumed by Valentina in all manner of brilliant 
and flowing elegance, she is. lithe, and very desirable. 
And it should be evident — if it hasn't' been evident before 
— that she has a fine, beautiful face for the theatre; a 
strong face, quite unlike any other, which can hold its 
own against the footlights."" 

* * ' 

Less Hopping About, Please 

HEN dialogue is carrying the story, there should be as 
little visual distraction as possible. Nearly all our 
directors confuse physical and filmic motion. It is the lat- 
ter, not the former, which is the life-blood of a screen 
creation. When two characters are reading lines which 
carry the story, the majority of directors think they are 
infusing action in the scene by having their players move 
about the room, sit for a moment in a chair, change to 
another. Such movement in reality impedes action by 
diverting audience attention from what the characters are 
saying to what they are doing. The only excuse for such 
dialogue passages is the fact of their carrying the story, 
that through them runs the filmic motion which always 
should preserve an unbroken thread from the first fade-in 
to the final fade-out. Hollywood's greatest need is a 
school to teach producers, writers and directors the fun- 
damental principles of the medium in which they work. 
No director who knows what filmic motion is, would per- 
mit one of his players to bob up and down when deliver- 
ing a speech which should engage the full attention of 
the audience. And no one in the audience would notice 
the lack of physical action or consider the scene flat when 
his mind was on the import of the speech. 

★ ★ * 

Getting Too Much of It 

O VERINDULGENCE in a good thing is an established pic- 
ture producer habit. At present the screen is resorting 
too frequently to "double take" technique, that of a 
character taking some time to get the import of a speech 
or a situation. It is good comedy technique, but, like 
everything else, it can be overdone. 

* ★ * 

Where to Look for It 

HOLLYWOOD despatch in variety (New York) opens 
with this paragraph: "Talent for Hollywood is where 
you find it. This is the consensus of talent scouts, casting 
directors, producers, and executives on the various lots. 
Recapitulation on new talent for the past year shows that 
around 75% of the players are brought here from the pro- 
fessional stage; 20% from little theatres (which, of course, 
means also the stage); and the remainder from radio and 
other sources." When all other fields are exhausted, per- 
haps talent scouts, casting directors, producers and execu- 
tives will stand outside the doors of their casting depart- 
ments and pick their new talent out of the parade of 

extras coming out after being told there is nothing doing. 

★ ★ ★ 

No Use Rubbing It In 

O NE of the funny arguments advanced in defense of so 
much dialogue in current pictures, is that the public 
has been taught to expect talk. It also has been taught 
to expect whooping cough, hurricanes and gangsters, but 

would be better off if it could get less of them. 

* * * 

Goes a Bit Too Far 

O NE of Jimmie Fidler's recent columns takes screen 
players to task for avoiding the autograph seekers 
who. make such nuisances of themselves as preview audi- 
ences are filing out of film theatres. He cites the instance 
of "two of the industry's top stars," who, "five minutes 
before the screening was finished, started to fidget. With 


the fine', clinch, they slipped furtively from their seats, 
darted .or a side exit, made a bee-line for their car." 
Obviously Jimmie thinks they should have gone out the 
main entrance to be rushed by an unruly mob, pushed, 
clawed, have their clothes torn — not by real picture fans, 
but by audacious youngsters who seek autographs for 
the purpose of selling them. I once walked out of a pre- 
view house with Barbara Stanwyck and Bob Taylor, and 
what happened to them quite convinced me they would 
be justified in arming themselves with clubs when setting 
out for another preview. Of course, a writer who must 
turn out a column every day can be excused for occa- 
sionally writing rot, but in this instance Jimmie puts quite 
a strain on the privilege. 

* * * 

Mental Meanderings 

ATTER of major importance at the moment is the 
flower garden. I am really excited about it. Every- 
thing is coming along in the most extraordinary manner, 
better than in any previous year. That probably is due 
to the fact that we used fertilizer more generously than 
usual and prepared our beds farther in advance of the 
new planting. As I write this, fertilized pits are awaiting 
dahlia bulbs, some choice varieties, which will be in 
before this Spectator reaches you, and then every bed 
will be complete. We have an extraordinary display of 
blooming carnations, and the Golden Emblem rose, which 
stretches for thirty feet, along the front fence, is a mass of 
yellow nuggets. But everywhere there is bloom, and I 
could go on and on, but I am afraid I would bore you. 
However, I use this column to register what I think about 
when I am off shift, so I will tell you that I think chiefly 
about the garden, so that's that. . . . But I must tell you 
about the spinach. Apparently the place once was a 
vegetable garden, for three clumps of spinach are emerg- 
ing to maturity in it. I believe in the live-and-let-live 
theory, and as the guest clumps of spinach are close to- 
gether, we have enclosed them in a circle of pansies, and 
Mrs. Spectator and I tend them carefully even though 
neither of us likes spinach. . . . Logical Hollywood mar- 
quee: Time Out for Murder, While New York Sleeps. 
... As the weather gets warmer, it takes me some time 
to get over the regret that wood fires are off the list until 
next fall. But we remained loyal to them as long as pos- 
sible. We finally gave up when one made the living room 
so hot we had to sit outdoors. ... I am having difficulty 
in filling my usual Meandering space this morning; notes 
on several exceedingly clever things to say have gone to 
the laundry in the pocket of the sport shirt I was wearing 
when I thought of them. I am writing in the garden; 
started early, before the sun grew warm; now it is hot 
and I am in it, and am determined to sit right here until 
I reach the bottom of the column, even if I broil. . . . 
Luckily I was saved from broiling by the opportune 
arrival of Billy in distress. Billy is one of my best friends 
among those who live along our dirt road. He is four- 
going-on-five and has a wise old Scotch terrier friend and 
constant companion. When I was submitting myself to the 
broiling process, Billy and Jock came to a stop outside the 
fence upon which is draped the Golden Emblem display 
of gold and green. They gazed at the bloom, then Billy, 
spying me, poked his head through the fence and in- 
formed me that his mother liked roses. Since then I have 
been cutting a big bunch, so big, in fact, that Billy could 
not manage it, so he and I and Jock and my Spaniel and 
Mrs. Spectator's Pekinese toddled down the road to Billy's 
house, and while his mother and I sat on the porch and 
talked of gardens, Billy played with the dogs until they 
got excited and started to fight, at which time I de- 
parted with our two. And now I am back on my garden 
chair which sits in the sun — and here is the end of the 
column. 





APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE FIVE 


fatten Picture Appreciation 


E WILL call the class to order and 
start off the morning with a quar- 
rel, but a nice, friendly one. At the end 
of my review of the latest Deanna Dur- 
bin picture in the Spectator of April 1, 
I made for motion picture appreciation 
students some comments on the screen 
technique involved in establishing some 
story points. Gladys Christensen, a 
teacher in the Roosevelt Junior High 
School, San Francisco, writes me as 
follows: “Your suggestion at the end 

of the Deanna Durbin review is good. 
However, to extend it further than that 
is of doubtful value at the present writ- 
ing. The technique of the making of 
motion pictures would fit well for the 
junior college or college grade student. 
For the average high school or junior 
high school people, the Spectator is 
amply covering the field in which they 
are interested.’’ 

Another Teacher's Opinion 
C]J It would be impracticable for the 
Spectator to conduct two motion pic- 
ture appreciation departments, one for 
the junior college or college grade stu- 
dent, another for the junior high school 
or the high school student. I believe, 
however, that the technique involved in 
making motion pictures can be discussed 
entertainingly enough to interest both 
college and high school pupils. Sharing 
this view is Lelia Trolinger, Bureau of 
Visual Instruction, University of Col- 
orado. Referring also to my remarks at 
the end of my review of Deanna’s lat- 
est picture, remarks drawing the atten- 
tion of study groups to a technical 
point. Miss Trolinger writes: 

“By all means continue to add those 
comments. For those of us who at- 
tempt to teach classes which include 
units on motion picture appreciation, 
any evaluation of this sort is very help- 
ful. T here are not enough in the field 
doing or trying to do this sort of thing 
to cause any danger of duplication.’’ 
And Miss Trolinger adds this flatter- 
ing paragraph: “Without any intent 

of ‘apple polishing’ or throwing bo- 
quets, I wish to say that I like your film 
reviews better than any that I read. 
Much of my own picture attendance is 
decided by your reviews and so far I 
have not been disappointed.’’ 

Knowledge Is Desirable 

<J As I view the whole question of dis- 
cussing the screen from an educational 
standpoint, the purpose is not to pre- 
pare students or members of study 
groups to make pictures. Rather is it 
to prepare them to derive greater satis- 
faction from viewing them. The great- 
er our knowledge of the fundamentals 
of a visual art, the greater must be the 


On This Page 

O WING to constantly increasing 
circulation of the Spectator among 
educational institutions which use it 
as an aid in the study of motion pic- 
tures, an effort will be made to pre- 
sent in each issue an analysis of the 
screen values of some important pic- 
ture which lends itself to such treat- 
ment. Few pictures possess the quali- 
ties which give them values essential 
to their selection as subjects for study, 
but there may be enough to enable us 
to keep up the service without missing 
an issue. The subject of today's dis- 
cussion is Republic’s Man of Con- 
quest, a picture which is a fine ex- 
ample of the intelligent use of talkie 
technique. 


satisfaction we derive from viewing one 
of its creations. So my gentle quarrel 
with Miss Christensen is based on my 
conviction that the technicalities of pic- 
ture making can be discussed in terms 
sufficiently elemental to interest high 
school students, and not too elemental 
for more advanced students and the 
adults who compose the many adult 
study groups. 

To such groups and to educational 
institutions are available perhaps a score 
of booklets which analyze the stories 
of various pictures and suggest courses 
of study to promote better understand- 
ing of their historical or literary signifi- 
cance. I have before me one sponsored 
by the National Council of Teachers of 
English, an organization which takes 
active and intelligent interest in the 
screen as an educational factor. The 
booklet is termed, “A Guide to the 
Critical Appreciation of the Republic 
Photoplay Dealing With the Career of 
Sam Houston: Man of Conquest ." 

Pay to See Technique 

One who reads the booklet and fol- 
lows its instructions as to co-related 
reading before seeing the picture, cer- 
tainly will be well posted on the his- 
torical, social and biographical signifi- 
cance of the production: and if, after 
reading it, he can answer all the ques- 
tions it asks, as well as to do the fur- 
ther reading it recommends, he probab- 
ly will be exhausted to the point of his 
not desiring to see another picture of 
the sort for quite a long time. Man ot 
Conquest, however, is an important pic- 
ture, a stirring and valuable contribu- 
tion to Americana. But how many of 
those who seek it as entertainment will 
undertake the course of study regarding 
it which is outlined in the booklet? 



BY 

THE EDITOR 

People who pay their way into film 
theatres are seeking motion pictures as 
entertainment, as a retreat from mental 
exercise, not an advance toward it. It 
really is motion picture technique they 
pay to see. If Man of Conquest were 
seen only by those who wish to study 
the history it teaches, it would not re- 
turn to its makers one cent on one dol- 
lar of production cost. That makes it 
appear to me that the best approach to 
the desired end of having the public 
benefit by absorbing the educational 
values of a picture, is first to interest 
them in the picture as such, to point out 
to them its cinematic values, and per- 
mit the educational values to be a by- 
product of their attendance. 

Some Man of Conquest Points 

<1 The Spectator's conception of the 
meaning of “motion picture apprecia- 
tion” as applied to school and college 
classes, is the appreciation of pictures as 
such and not as historical or social docu- 
ments. Or perhaps I had better put it 
this way: The Spectator will leave it 

to study groups to continue their valu- 
able work in connection with the sub- 
ject matter of the stories which are 
told on the screen, and will confine itself 
to the manner in which the stories are 
told in the language of the medium 
which tells them. 

We will take Man of Conquest as a 
picture which well repays study. From 
a technical standpoint it is as nearly 
perfect an example of the talkie form 
as the screen has given us since it got its 
tongue. In preparing the screen play, 
the writers revealed consciousness of the 
fact of the camera’s being the screen’s 
chief story-telling medium. In no place 
in the picture is a line of dialogue used 
to express something the camera could 
express in visual terms. What dialogue 
there is consists of short, crisp sentences 
except in scenes in which characters ad- 
dress audiences, and the speeches deliv- 
ered in the few such scenes get their 
value largely from their contrast with 
the terse dialogue in all the other scenes. 

Introduction of Characters 

•jj When the main title fades out, there 
appears on the screen a statement setting 
forth the theme of the story the picture 
will tell. Thus is the mood set, and 
we are not taken out of it by the long 
list of credits and cast names which 
other pictures compel audiences to sit 
through. Man of Conquest gets right 
down to business by beginning the story 
and introducing the man, leaving the 
credits for the end of the picture to al- 
low us to walk out on them if they do 
not interest us. In the opening sequence 
we get our first taste of the clever dia- 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Iogue treatment which persists to the 
end. A woman addresses Sam Houston 
by name; he, in replying, calls her 
mother, thus in a few words are the two 
characters introduced and identified. 

But it is necessary we should know 
something about the past of Sam Hous- 
ton. Two or three exceedingly brief 
lines of dialogue acquaint us with the 
fact of his love for the outdoors. A line 
which illustrates how it is done: (Moth- 
er speaking) “And who gave up his 
job as a school teacher and went to live 
with the Indians?” Sam’s grin proves 
he is the person. What a wealth of 
background story there is in a speech 
so short, and what a wealth of person- 
ality is expressed by the grin! 

Speech As Story Device 

In another scene, a political speech 
by Andrew Jackson sketches the career 
of Houston from the time of his first 
appearance to his becoming governor of 
Tennessee; and a series of montage shots 
with superimposed dates teach us his- 
tory of stirring times more vividly, and 
in a manner to remain longer in our 
minds, than any printed history or pro- 
fessor of history possibly could teach 
it. The point I wish to emphasize is 
the method of teaching, not what is 
taught. That is what I would ask study 
groups to notice when viewing the pic- 
ture. 

I could make a long list of points 
the student of film technique should 
not overlook. A few of them: The 

few speeches required to amplify the 
camera’s presentation of the reasons for 
Sam Houston’s bride’s desertion of him: 
the spread of gossip which follows her 
leaving him, shown by sharp cutting 
from one short shot to another until 
the extent of it is established: almost 
sole reliance on the camera to put over 
the completeness and the duration of 
Houston’s drunken debauch following 
his resignation as governor: the heroic 
stubbornness of the defenders of the 
Alamo registered by several cuts to the 
flag flying so bravely over it, each cut 
showing the flag still more riddled and 
torn, but each showing it still flying as 
a symbol of the determination of the 
handful of men to die, perhaps; to sur- 
render, never. 

Camera Tells the Romance 

Cl Then there is the mysterious way in 
which the camera makes Gail Patrick’s 
beauty and absorption in her role of the 
woman in love with Houston, come to 
our emotions with such sudden impact. 
This romance, the second in Houston’s 
life, is left almost entirely to the camera 
to tell, what lines there are spoken serv- 
ing more to round it out than to estab- 
lish it. Notice how quietly the words 
of love are uttered. Notice also how 
understandingly are all the dialogue 
scenes directed. No voice is raised high- 
er than the mood of the scene demands. 


That is intelligent dir.. lion, worth no- 
ticing only because it is so rare. 

In all the purely physical scenes in 
Man of Conquest, the same wise reli- 
ance on camera is displayed. An excel- 
lent example of intelligently propelled 
forward flow of story is presented in a 
sequence showing Richard Dix (Hous- 
ton), Gail Patrick, her family, and a 
few score other people traveling from 
Tennessee to Texas. At this juncture 
of the story our interest lies in the prog- 
ress of the Gail-Dix romance. Together 
they take seats on top of a stagecoach 
and start the romance which seems to 
glide along without interruption as their 
southward progress continues — from 
stage to steamer to train of covered 
wagons. The whole picture is as per- 
fect an example of sustained filmic mo- 
tion as it is possible for the talkie form 
to achieve. 

Should Be Seen Twice 

q Not by seeing the picture only once 
can the student get all its cinematic 
values. It is too engrossing as entertain- 
ment to permit the mind to become 
analytical when viewing it for the first 
time. For the purpose of this analysis 
I saw it twice, the first time to estimate 
its values as popular entertainment. I 
considered it excellent entertainment and 
so expressed myself in the last Spectator. 
I saw it the second time to discover why 
I liked it so well the first time, and 
found in it most of the cinematic virtues 
I enumerate here, the others being those 
which forced their way into my con- 
sciousness at the first viewing. 

We must not lose sight of the fact 
that motion pictures are not made for 
study groups to take apart in an effort 
to find out why they tick. They are 
made for the sole purpose of entertain- 
ing audiences. If they are entertaining, 
nothing else matters greatly. But the 
student of screen entertainment always 
should know why he likes or why he 
dislikes a picture he sees. That cannot 
be determined until he has seen a pic- 
ture for the second time. But I believe 
those who read this page prior to their 
seeing Man of Conquest can be conscious 
of the points I mention without lessen- 
ing their absorption in the story as en- 
tertainment. 


★ “It’s what I’ve been preaching on 
this lot until I nearly preached myself 
out of my job. I have written sequences 
exactly to the pattern your book pre- 
sents, only to have them sent back for 
more dialogue. That is what you get 
for working for people who don’t know 

the kind of business they are in.” . 

(Name omitted to keep the writer from 
getting in bad with his bosses.) A Plea 
and A Play, by Welford Beaton; price 
one dollar. Hollywood Spectator, 6513 
Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. 


Harry M. Warner 
Expresses Thanhs 

EAR Welford: 

I want you to know that I deeply 
appreciate the magnificent attention you 
pay Confessions of a Nazi Spy in the 
current issue of your publication. 

In focusing interest of your readers 
upon a film of this type, you are render- 
ing a service not only to them but to 
our nation, as well. 

Under existing world conditions, we 
who love America must do all within 
our power to safeguard its ideals and to 
foster a greater love of country. We of 
the Warner studio have sought to ac- 
complish this through the production of 
Confessions of a Nazi Spy. You, 
through your publication, are lending 
valuable aid. 

With kindest personal regards, I re- 
main, sincerely, 

H. M. WARNER, 

( President , Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.) 


Weep and Like It 

There was an old actor 

Who lived on beef stew, 

Ran out of ingredients 

And was stumped what to do. 
He hoped for a phone call. 

But it never came, 

And he hadn't a nickel 

To put to his name. 

So rather than holler. 

He went straight to bed. 

When his landlady called 

To collect her month's fare, 

She found that the actor’s 

Food cupboard was bare. 

“If only I’d known, 

“I’d have helped him to thrive.” 
But the time to save actors 
Is when they're alive. 

And Jim. the old actor, was dead. 

Robert Watson. 


★ People would seldom turn on their 
radios if the sound which issued from 
them were as loud and metallic of tone 
as that which issues much of the time 
from theatre loud-speakers. The sound 
reproduction in nearly all theatres could 
benefit by a modification of volume. 


Eyes Examined and Glasses Pitted 


DEVER D. GRAY, OPT. D. 

... OPTOMETRIST ... 

1725 North Highland Avenue 
Hollywood, California 
HEmpstead 8438 



APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE SEVEN 


What iate (JheJ Jiwk iike 


Too Mitch Chatter 
for Easy Digestion 

• THE RETURN OF THE CISCO KID; 20th- 
Fox production; directed by Herbert I. Leeds; 
associate producer, Kenneth Macgowan; 
screen play, Milton Sperling; based on char- 
acter created by O. Henry; photography, 
Charles Clarke; art direction, Richard Day; 
associate art direction, Wiard B. Ihnen; film 
editor, James B. Clark; costumes, Gwen Wake- 
ling; musical direction, Cyril J. Mockridge. 
Stars Warner Baxter. Features Lynn Bari, 
Cesar Romero, Henry Hull, Kane Richmond, 
C. Henry Gordon and Robert Barrat. Support- 
ing cast: Chris-Pin Martin, Adrian Morris, 

Soledad Jimenez, Harry Strang, Arthur Ayles- 
worth, Paul Burns, Victor Kilian, Eddie Wal- 
ler, Ruth Gillette, Ward Bond. Running time, 
70 minutes. 

OTHING the matter with the Cisco 
Kid himself, but the vehicle in which 
he is brought back to us is such a poor 
thing it makes us wonder why Century 
did not let him stay dead. There is 
nothing the matter with Warner Bax- 
ter’s repetition of the role. He is the 
same flashing, smiling daredevil we 
liked so well nearly a decade ago and 
who now is brought from the grave 
only to be knocked back into it by the 
story written for his resurrection. The 
Return of the Cisco Kid is not satisfac- 
tory screen entertainment chiefly because 
it talks too much. At least half the 
chatter is without story value and seems 
to be indulged in for its own sake. 

An instance is the writing of the part 
played by that talented actor, Henry 
Hull. He is characterized as a drunken 
swindler who stops talking only when 
he is guzzling whiskey and whose part 
in motivating the story is much too 
trivial to justify the irritation he causes. 
He merely is the traveling companion of 
Lynn Bari, the leading woman, a part 
which could have contributed to the 
entertainment value of the picture if it 
had been written for a less blabby play- 
er, either male or female, and not writ- 
ten on the theory that there is comedy 
value in constant swilling of liquor. 

Outstanding for Beauty 

*1 Visually, the picture is a beautiful 
thing, Charles Clarke, its cameraman, 
being entitled to billing as its star. It 
brings to us the mood of the desert with 
long vistas of its grotesque loveliness, 
its peaks and plains, its lights and 
shadows, but too little of the cloak of 
silence which makes it so impressive. 
It is a setting which demanded for its 
complement the subdued sparse talking 
of men whose actions make their silence 
eloquent. But instead of what we should 
have had — a story which could be told 
completely without asking us to listen 
to more than two hundred speeches — 


On This Page 

HE last Spectator contained reviews 
of ten pictures; the three before it, 
going backwards, had 17, 16, 11 re- 
spectively. This Spectator has 8 
reviews, one of them having been 
crowded out of the last issue and held 
over for this one. The review-con- 
tent of a Spectator is something be- 
yond our power to control; if the 
studios do not preview pictures, we 
cannot review them. Hollywood un- 
derstands that, but possibly the Spec- 
tator’s readers outside Hollywood 
may attribute the fluctuations in the 
number of reviews published in each 
issue to be due to the rise and fall of 
the energy of our reviewers. Quite a 
number of big and little pictures are 
nearing completion, and it is not like- 
ly any future Spectator will contain 
as few reviews as we present in this 
issue. Among the reviews the Spec- 
tator can promise to present in its 
next issue are those of Juarez. Union 
Pacific, The Confessions of a Nazi 
Spy, all important pictures. 


we are given one which contains over 
two thousand, most of which are noth- 
ing but meaningless noise. 

An example of gratuitous presenta- 
tion of voice for its own sake: A fire 

breaks out and threatens the desert com- 
munity's principal building. The men 
get buckets, fill them with water and 
try to drown the fire. The desert, I re- 
mind you, breeds silent men, tight- 
lipped men who battle with it for ex- 
istence. There was chance for drama 
in the fight with the fire — the grim 
men of the desert doggedly, silently 
striving to conquer the flames. But that 
is not what we get. During the entire 
fire sequence the men are yelling at the 
tops of their voices and running in cir- 
cles like a lot of astonished rabbits. I 
am not aware whether producer, writer 
or director is to blame for such inepti- 
tude, but if it were divided into three 
parts, there would be a big helping for 
each of them. 

Performances Are Capable 

<| Strangely enough, all the perform- 
ances, as such, will give satisfaction even 
though you will not like the picture as 
a whole. Warner Baxter is as convinc- 
ing as the Cisco Kid as he was when the 
part started him on the road to fame 
and fortune. It is unfortunate for him 
that the character was brought back in 
a picture poorly written and poorly di- 
rected. Lynn Bari and Kane Richmond 
make the most of a romance, and as a 
team of cheerful desperadoes Cesar Ro- 
mero and Chris-Pin Martin give excel- 


lent accounts of themselves. The veter- 
an Robert Barrat contributes one of 
those discerning, convincing character- 
izations we have learned to expect from 
him. C. Henry Gordon, one of Holly- 
wood’s most capable actors, gives a brief 
part story value. Soledad Jimenez is 
another who capably adds her bit. 

As is the case with all Century pro- 
ductions, this one reflects credit on all 
technicians who had a hand in its mak- 
ing. Sound recording by Arthur von 
Kirbach and Roger Heman is particu- 
larly commendable, and as much can be 
said for the film editing of James B. 
Clark. The Century art department pro- 
vided sets which are responsible in a 
large part for both the creation and 
maintenance of the atmosphere of the 
period which the story deals with. 

Constant talking probably will ex- 
haust the patience of adult audiences, 
but the action should please the young- 
sters. Study groups should note the ex- 
cess of dialogue which has no story 
value. 

Mickey's Mugging 
Mars the Mirth 

• THE HARDYS RIDE HIGH; MGM; director, 
George B. Seitz; musical score, David Snell; 
art director, Cedric Gibbons; associate art 
director, Eddie Imazu; set decorations, Edwin 
B. Willis; photography, Lester White; film edi- 
tor, Ben Lewis. Cast: Lewis Stone, Mickey 

Rooney, Cecilia Parker, Fay Holden, Ann Ruth- 
erford, Sara Haden, Virginia Grey, Minor Wat- 
son, John King, John T. Murray, George Irv- 
ing, Halliwell Hobbes, Aileen Pringle, Marsha 
Hunt, Donald Briggs, William Orr, Truman 
Bradley. Running time, 75 minutes. 

HILE The Hardys Ride High meas- 
ures up all right with the best of 
the smaller pictures, it is the poorest of 
the Hardy series. The story suffers from 
a constitutional weakness: it gives the 
Hardys a two-million-dollar inheritance, 
and after a couple of days takes it away 
from them, thus getting nowhere in 
particular. But that is not the chief 
weakness of the picture as entertain- 
ment. Mickey Rooney spoils it with 
his mugging. It is by long odds the 
worst performance he has given in one 
of the series. Under the capable direc- 
tion of George Seitz, the Hardy pictures 
made Rooney one of the screen s impor- 
tant actors, gave him fourth place in 
the list of money-making stars. 

When it was announced that W. S. 
Van Dyke was to direct the Hardy pic- 
ture to follow Ride High, some specula- 
tion was caused in film circles. Daily 
Variety explained the shift by stating 
that “one of the top players” was get- 
ting out of hand, that Lion Tamer Van 
Dyke was called in to tame him. The 




PAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


only out-of-hand player in Ride High 
is Rooney, and he certainly can stand a 
lot of taming if the series is to continue. 
In most of his scenes he succeeds only 
in being ridiculous. The fault cannot 
lie in the direction, as it was Seitz who 
was responsible for the excellent per- 
formances Rooney gave in the pictures 
which established his reputation. 

Story Is Not Convincing 

•I The Ride High story does not ring 
true. It takes the family out of the 
home-folks atmosphere which was its 
greatest strength. And it takes Judge 
Hardy out of character by giving him a 
moment when he is on the point of 
committing a crime to obtain money 
upon which he has no legal claim. He 
does not commit the crime, but it is 
to his discredit that he thought of it, 
and not at all to his credit that he did 
not go through with it. Honesty is 
something we take for granted, and no 
man can preen himself upon practicing 
it. In every picture in which Judge 
Hardy appears hereafter there will rise 
before him the ghost of the crime he 
almost committed. 

Ride High, of course, is not a total 
loss. It has many scenes which ring 
true and others which are exceedingly 
funny. It is mounted somewhat more 
imposingly than others of the series, 
the Metro technical experts again prov- 
ing themselves masters of their crafts. 
With the exception of Rooney's, all the 
performances are excellent. Lewis Stone, 
of course, is the same dependable and 
sincere artist, even the moment of weak- 
ness to which I object, being put over 
with skill. Fay Holden is again the 
model mother, and Sara Haden, the old- 
maid school teacher, here becomes a but- 
terfly, and a most engaging one. Cecilia 
Parker and Ann Rutherford are as 
charming as ever. Minor Watson and 
George Irving have important roles. 
Among those who appear briefly, I 
spotted Marsha Hunt. There is a girl 
who could get somewhere if some pro- 
ducer would give her a chance. 

Story somewhat more involved than 
previous ones of series , consequently has 
less juvenile appeal. Rooney’s perform- 
ance will disappoint his adult admirers. 


★ A Plea and A Play, by Welford 
Beaton. A plea for less dialogue in 
screen entertainment and a screen play 
to demonstrate how it can be done. 
One of the first comments on it: “Thank 
you for giving us the clearest treatment 
of the dialogue nuisance yet presented. 
It has been included in the text-books 
for our motion picture appreciation 
class.’’ — Price, one dollar. Hollywood 
Spectator, 6513 Hollywood Boulevard, 
Hollywood. 


★ The Spectator has the widest circu- 
lation among educational groups of any 
film publication. 


England Sends b„ 
One of the Best 

9 STOLEN LIFE; Paramount release of an 
Orion production; produced and directed by 
Paul Czinner; adapted by Margaret Kennedy; 
from the novel by K. I. Benes. Stars Elisabeth 
Bergner and Michael Redgrave. Supporting 
cast: Wilfrid Lawson, Mabel Terry Lewis, 

Richard Ainley, Kenneth Buckley, Cyril Hor- 
rocks, O. B. Clarence, John Lloyd, Roy Rus- 
sell, Oliver Johnston, H. Regus, Devina Craid, 
Dorothy Dewhurst, Fewlass Llewellyn, Paul- 
ette Preney, Ernest Ferney, Stella Arbenina, 
Kaye Seely, Pierre Jouvenet, Dorice Fordred, 
Cot O'Ordan, Annie Esmond, D. J. Williams, 
Clement McCallin, Cayenne Micheladzse, Cy- 
ril Chamberlain. Running time, 90 minutes. 

RARE treat, this one, with one of 
the world’s greatest actresses teamed 
with one of its most agreeable leading 
men: a human story, told with leisure- 
ly progression, as is the English way, 
and backgrounds differing refreshingly 
from those we are used to seeing. We 
get few pictures from abroad which 
match in excellence Stolen Life, conse- 
quently American audiences have not 
been taught to look for them: and, as 
a further consequence, I am afraid this 
one will not earn the patronage its 
merits entitle it to, although locally the 
discriminating patronage which Man- 
ager Bruce Fowler has developed for his 
Four Star Theatre should assure it a 
long run. 

Stolen Life presents Elisabeth Berg- 
ner with an opportunity to give her 
greatest purely mental characterization. 
She plays a dual role as each of a pair 
of twins, one — the leading character — 
a thoughtful, earnest girl of high char- 
acter: the other a vibrant, unscrupulous 
trifler with easily adjustable moral prin- 
ciples, who ruthlessly steals from her 
s’ster the man the latter loves, marries 
him, then falls in love with another. 

Story a Simple One 

<| As must be the case with all really 
great photoplays, the story of Stolen 
Life is a simple one which could be told 
in a couple of reels. As told on the 
screen it holds our lively interest for 
seven or eight reels by the sheer force of 
the artistry put into it by the writer, 
director and players. In the dual capac- 
ity of producer and director, Paul Czin- 
ner acquits himself brilliantly. I cannot 
recall at the moment an American pic- 
ture which was given more discerning 
direction, one which conveys a greater 
suggestion of intimacy, the quality 
which makes us feel we are a part of it, 
friends of the family, permitted to share 
the joys and sorrows of those compos- 
ing it. 

In each of the widely diversified 
phases of her characterization Miss Berg- 
ner is superb. And, thanks to her and to 
the director, we have a picture in which 
a player assumes two roles without mak- 
ing us hear the creaks of the cinematic 


machinery as it turns out the story. We 
see and become acquainted with two 
separate and distinct characters, so indi- 
vidual does Miss Bergner make each of 
them. 

Harmonious Acting Pattern 

<J It is all of a quarter of a century ago 
since I saw all the principal plays being 
presented in London theatres, but there 
lingers with me yet the memory of the 
evenness of all the performances, the 
harmonious acting pattern in which the 
small bits were of the same quality as 
the larger parts of the fabric. The best 
English pictures coming to us from time 
to time have the same quality. Stolen 
Life is no exception. Miss Bergner’s co- 
star, Michael Redgrave, made an im- 
pression upon all those who saw him in 
The Lady Vanishes. In Stolen Life he 
again distinguishes himself, but every 
part, down to the smallest, leaves no 
room for criticism. 

Technically, the picture is fully up 
to the best Hollywood standard. Sound 
recording is excellent, as it had to be in 
a picture in which there are no raised 
voices and in which several speeches are 
whispered. Photography also is of high 
standard. 

Too fine of texture for any but dis- 
criminating audiences. To study groups 
it presents an opportunity to compare 
direction with the best given Hollywood 
pictures. An attraction for first class 
theatres in larger cities; not for small 
town houses. 

Could Ha ve Been a 
if hole Lot Better 

9 CALLING DR. KILDARE; MGM; director, 
Harold S. Bucquet; original. Max Brand; 
screen play, Harry Ruskin; musical score, 
David Snell; recording director, Douglas 
Shearer; art director, Cedric Gibbons; asso- 
ciate art director, Gabriel Scognamillo; set 
decorations, Edwin B. Willis; photography, 
AHred Gilks and Lester White; film editor, 
Robert J. Kern. Cast: Lew Ayres, Lionel Bar- 
rymore, Laraine Day, Nat Pendleton, Lana 
Turner, Samuel S. Hinds, Lynne Carver, Em- 
ma Dunn, Walter Kingsford, Alma Kruger, 
Bobs Watson, Harlan Briggs, Henry Hunter, 
Marie Blake, Phillip Terry, Roger Converse, 
Donald Barry, Reed Hadley. Nell Craig, 
Ueorge Offerman, Jr., Clinton Rosemond, 
Johnny Walsh. Running time, 86 minutes. 

OT having seen the first picture of 
the Dr. Kildare series, I am not in a 
position to compare it with this one; 
but as the first scored a success, it must 
have been better entertainment than this 
one, which is unpleasant even though 
most capably directed and satisfactorily 
acted by a well chosen cast. And. of 
course, it has one of Metro’s complete 
and visually attractive productions. As 
I understand the series, its purpose is 
to keep us interested in the progress of 
a clever young doctor (Lew Ayres) 
whose career is being guided by an 




APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE NINE 


amusingly irascible old one i l onel 
Barrymore) . 

This story shows Ayres disregarding 
both the ethics of his profession and 
the provisions of criminal law by re- 
fusing to report to the police a gunshot 
wound he is called upon to treat. With- 
out the slightest clue upon which to 
base his conviction. Ayres is satisfied 
that his patient is not the murderer the 
police are convinced he is. That is the 
reason for his failure to report the case. 

Hero Assumes Too Much 

<JJust why Ayres assumes the law will 
not give the wounded man a square 
deal is not made clear at any stage of 
the story. He shows his disrespect for 
the honesty and ability of law officers 
by his refusal to put the case in their 
hands and his decision to solve the crime 
himself. Thus we have the spectacle of 
a young doctor, fresh from a country 
town and guileless enough to become 
the easy victim of a designing gold- 
digger in the person of an attractive 
girl, considering himself the only per- 
son who could stand between his chance 
patient and the latter's unjust execu- 
tion for murder. If I had been in the 
patient s place, I would have preferred 
to have my case placed in the hands of 
officers trained in the art of solving 
crimes. 

A basically absurd story cannot be 
made into satisfactory screen entertain- 
ment, no matter how good the direc- 
tion and capable the acting. The Kil- 
dare series offers Metro jan opportunity 
to contribute something worthwhile to 
the screen, something dignified, human 
and amusing, but the series will not 
live long if it is to drag in the cheap, 
smelly melodrama of which the public 
already is tired, and if it persists in hav- 
ing its inexperienced hero doing things 
we refuse to believe he could do. 

Points on Credit Side 

<11 On the credit side of Calling Dr. 
Kildare there are the already noted di- 
rection of Harold Bucquet and several 
excellent performances. The direction 
of dialogue is particularly noteworthy, 
there being none of the loud talking 
which has driven so many customers 
away from film box-offices. Speaking 
in natural tones permits the player to 
substitute expression for noise, which 
is another way of saying it permits him 
to give a natural performance. Lionel 
Barrymore, of course, is to be credited 
with another superb performance. Lew 
Ayres carries on in a manner which can 
keep the series going if the stories are 
better than this one. Nat Pendleton, 
Sam Hinds, Walter Kingsford and sev- 
eral others among the men do good 
work. Little Bobs Watson scores a de- 
cided hit. 

We are presented with a brace of 
beautiful and capable girls in the per- 
sons of Loraine Day and Lana Turner, 


each of whom responds to Bucquet’s 
direction with an engaging character- 
ization. Emma Dunn and Alma Kruger 
prove again their dependability in char- 
acter roles. 

Two cameras contributed the excel- 
lent photography, those of Alfred Gilks 
and Lester White. The highly impor- 
tant job of editing the film was in the 
capable hands of Bob Kern, and a good 
job he made of it. 

Worth the time of study groups as 
a demonstration of things which should 
not be done. Will be criticized for its 
moral tone as it justifies the action of 
a citizen in concealing a man wanted 
on a criminal charge. Not for children. 
Students should note the sensible direc- 
tion of dialogue. Exhibitors had better 
soft-pedal on advance promises. 

One With Little 

to Recommend It 

• THE LADY'S FROM KENTUCKY; Para- 
mount; producer, Jeff Lazarus; director, Alex- 
ander Hall; assistant director, Joseph Lefert; 
photography, Theodor Sparkuhl; art directors, 
Hans Dreier and John Goodman; film editor, 
Harvey Johnston; interior decorations, A. E. 
Freudeman. Cast: George Raft, Ellen Drew, 

Hugh Herbert, Zazu Pitts, Louise Beavers, 
Lew Payton, Forrester Harvey, Harry Tyler. 
Edward J. Pawley, Gilbert Emery, Eugene 
Jackson, Jimmy Bristow. Running time. 75 
minutes. 

O UITE a collection of things not to 
do when making a motion picture. 
All things Jeff Lazarus, the picture’s 
producer, should have known in ad- 
vance. The story is a cheap, tawdry 
recital of a romance, with a race horse 
background, shared by a gambler with 
a low conception of sporting ethics, 
and a girl so reared and refined it is im- 
possible for the audience to believe she 
would love the kind of man the gam- 
bler is. Perhaps lurking in the back of 
Rowland Brown’s head there may have 
been some idea which would justify 
the story — or such an idea may have 
been in his original — but, if so, there is 
no evidence of it in Mike Boylan’s 
screen play. 

Merging the kind of character George 
Raft should play, with the kind appar- 
ently he wants to play, proves only that 
he is not a romantic actor. He has made 
a place for himself on the screen in parts 
which suited his personality and by 
sticking to them could extend even his 
already established popularity, but 
among the parts he should not play is 
the kind he plays in this picture. And 
the agreeable and promising Ellen Drew 
will have to make her next appearance 
in a better story if she is to make us for- 
get this one. And Paramount will have 
to do something to appease Kentucky 
for the shock The Lady’s From Ken- 
tucky will give it. Having one of its 
fairest daughters in love with a tin-horn 


gambler with low sporting instincts, is 
a bit too much. 

Direction Does Not Help 

<1 The weakness of the story is accen- 
tuated by the direction given it by AI 
Hall. Granted he had pretty bad mate- 
rial to work with, he still might have 
given us a better picture if he had di- 
rected with greater appreciation of such 
values as the script contained. He sure- 
ly could have induced Raft to put some 
expression in the reading of lines. And 
he could have given us a dining room 
scene not quite as absurd as the one we 
see. Three people are seated at a round 
table; all face the camera, seating which 
leaves two-thirds of the table without 
occupants. A fourth guest joins them, 
squeezes in with the three, and the four 
sit elbow-to-elbow in order to bring all 
their faces into the camera. 

One thing to the credit of the picture 
is its giving that capable comedian, 
Hugh Herbert, a chance to be different. 
His is the best performance, one free 
from the mannerisms he for a long time 
has been trying to get away from, but 
which his directors demanded. Hall al- 
lows him to be different, and an excel- 
lent characterization is the result. An- 
other asset of the picture is the presence 
in the cast of the clever and popular 
Zazu Pitts, who for too long a period 
has been absent from the screen. Visu- 
ally the picture is attractive, the produc- 
tion being of high standard. Technic- 
ally, too, there is nothing lacking, pho- 
tography, film editing and sound re- 
cording being thoroughly competent. 

Criminal's Mind 

Is Taken Apart 

• BLIND ALLEY; Columbia picture and re- 
lease; director, Charles Vidor; associate pro- 
ducer, Fred Kohlmar; screen play by Philip 
MacDonald, Michael Blankfort and Albert 
Duffy; based on play by James Warwick; 
photography, Lucien Ballard; film editor, Otto 
Meyer; sound recording, J. A. Goodrich; mu- 
sical director, M. W. Stoloff- art director, Lionel 
Banks; montage effects, Donald W. Starling; 
gowns, Kalloch. Features Chester Morris, 
Ralph Bellamy. Ann Dvorak. Supporting cast: 
Joan Perry, Melville Cooper. Rose Stradner. 
John Eldridge, Ann Doran, Marc Lawrence, 
Stanley Brown, Scotty Beckett, Milburn Stone, 
Marie Blake. Running time, 68 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

UITE different from any story I re- 
call having seen in pictures before is 
that of Blind Alley. The whole affair 
is t ed up with psychoanalysis, being 
an account of how a psychology profes- 
sor uses the one weapon at his command 
to protect his family and guests when 
his home is invaded by a notorious kil- 
ler and his accomplices, hiding from the 
police — the professor “destroys" the 
fellow by taking apart his mind and 


PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


showing him how it works. The pro- 
cess is grim but exciting. 

Chester Morris gives a vital portrayal 
of the killer. It is a finely thought out, 
excellently accented and shaded per- 
formance, one of the best I have seen 
this season. Hard on his heels for hon- 
ors is Ralph Bellamy, as the shrewd 
professor, calmly but alertly watching 
his chances to throw a noose of science 
about the killer. Ann Dvorak depicts 
a devoted gangster's moll with spirit, 
and Joan Perry, Melville Cooper, Rose 
Stradner, the youthful John Eldridge 
and others are able. Director Charles 
Vidor has brought an experienced hand 
to bear on the proceedings, carrying 
along the drama with intensity and 
pace. 

New Science Explained 

<1 The psychoanalysis tenets have been 
set forth with admirable clarity by the 
script. In fact, the picture constitutes a 
good exposition of the basic principles 
of the science. The psychoanalysts main- 
tain, it may be recalled, that much of 
abnormal behavior is caused by mem- 
ories which the individual would escape 
and has pushed down into the subcon- 
scious mind, and that once these mem- 
ories are coaxed into the open and the 
individual made aware of the causes of 
his behavior, he is cured of the procliv- 
ities. In this story the criminal is not 
only cured of a nightmare which has 
haunted him from childhood, or so the 
professor assures him, but is also freed 
from his impulse to kill, though this 
metamorphosis, ironically, brings about 
his doom. I am not qualified to express 
an opinion on the merits of this branch 
of psychiatry. The important thing is 
that the theories are wholly acceptable 
durmg the unfoldment of the drama, 
which is doubtless due in large part to 
the craftsmanship in the screen play and 
to Bellamy’s sincere playing. Those who 
are indifferent to a sprinkling of ideas 
in their film fare will find plenty of 
melodrama to absorb them. 

Montage Sequences Weird 
<1 Good dramaturgy can be seen in the 
structure of the screen play by Philip 
MacDonald, Michael Blankfort ancT Al- 
bert Duffy, though I judged the text of 
James Warwick’s play was adhered to 
closely in important scenes of the drama. 
The convincing way in which the killer 
is brought around to subjecting himself 
to the psychiatrist’s probing, is an in- 
stance of exceptionally good writing. 
Entrances and exits are deftly managed, 
too, and the tension is lightened by 
comedy touches at strategic places. The 
only place where pace and interest lag 
are in an early portion when two prin- 
ciple characters start talking about two 
other characters which have not yet en- 
tered the story and in whom we have 
no interest, something which should 
practically never be done in screen writ- 
ing. 


Though the script, for the most part, 
is wholly in the talkie genre, and most 
of the action is confined to a single set, 
good pace is maintained through the 
vitality of the performances and the 
animate use Vidor has made of the 
camera. Evidently the discerning edit- 
ing of Otto Meyer had a hand in the 
movement, too. 

Touches of sheer cinema, however, 
are provided by Donald W. Starling in 
his montage sequences. The recital of 
the killer’s recurring dream is evidently 
effected through the use of the negative 
film. At any rate, it is an eerie effect. 
Depictions of the exhumed memories of 
the fellow are artfully realized also, 
what with distorted perspectives and 
the like. The general photography of 
Lucien Ballard contributes importantly 
to the film, as does the art direction of 
Lionel Banks and the musical score by 
Stoloff. 

A study in psychoanalysis, with a 
counterpoint of melodrama, which 
should catch the fancy of all adult pic- 
ture-goers. Libraries might find a tie- 
up between the film and their books in 
the psychology field. Students will ob- 
serve instances of good dramaturgy . 
some excellent playing, and some imag- 
inative montage sequences. Not recom- 
mended for children, however. 

Playing in This 

One Best Feature 

• SORORITY HOUSE; RKO production and 
release; director, John Farrow; producer, Rob- 
ert Sisk; production executive, Lee Marcus; 
screen play by Dalton Trumbo; based on 
story, "Chi House," by Mary Coyle Chase; 
photography, Nicholas Musuraca; art direc- 
tor, Van Nest Polglase; associate art director, 
Carroll Clark; musical score, Roy Webb; 
gowns, Edward Stevenson; sound recording, 
Earl A. Wolcott; film editor, Harry Marker. 
Features Anne Shirley and James Ellison. Sup- 
porting cast: Barbara Read, Adele Pearce, 

J. M. Kerrigan, Helen Wood, Doris Jordan, 
June Storey, Elisabeth Risdon, Margaret Arm- 
strong, Selmer Jackson, Chill Wills. Running 
time, 60 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

S OME high caliber playing reflecting 
sensitive direction, is the one attribute 
of Sorority House. Anne Shirley, Adele 
Pearce and Barbara Read give very well 
interpreted and emotionally keyed de- 
pictions of three college students sharing 
a room at a boarding house, the former 
two, freshmen, eagerly awaiting the 
prized bids which will invite them to 
become pledges of a sorority. Miss Read, 
a sophomore, is whimsically philosoph- 
ical — most of the time — about not hav- 
ing been pledged as yet. J. M. Kerrigan 
backs them up with a human portrayal 
of the former girl’s father. There are 
numerous scenes which are handled with 
excellent delicacy or dramatic verve by 
John Farrow — Miss Shirley’s overflow- 


ing -a,?ture upon finally being at col- 
lege, quiet but fervent, as she talks to 
James Ellison in the moonlit garden 
in front of the boarding house; the hys- 
terical attempt at suicide by one girl 
who fails to receive an expected bid. 

The story itself, however, is not at 
all times convincing. In fact, it misses 
the spirit of campus life about as far as 
most films dealing with our universi- 
ties. There is a good material for a 
yarn in the undue emphasis given sor- 
orities at most educational institutions. 
Granted, such cliques beget a certain 
amount of snobbishness, a somewhat 
distorted sense of values, and keen dis- 
appointment for some excluded students. 
Only, Sorority House pounces on the 
problem in the manner of Man Moun- 
tain Dean. 

Some Decline to Join 

<1 From the picture it would appear the 
average girl goes to a university princi- 
pally to join an exclusive and expensive 
sorority and to find a good matrimonial 
prospect. Perhaps some do, but with 
the larger portion I am sure such things 
are secondary. There is a growing class 
of students, of both sexes, who remain 
’’non-org” by choice, and some are 
prominent in campus activities. That a 
girl is damned to a dreary, empty ex- 
istence during her college years because 
she is not pledged by a sorority, is 
hardly a fact. Moreover, that such a 
level-headed girl as Anne Shirley por- 
trays would consider being pledged by 
an expensive organization when she 
knows her father is straining the purse 
strings to send her to school, is an un- 
convincing facet. 

At any rate, as we have said, the per- 
formances are of such merit as to place 
the picture in an upper bracket as a 
dualer. Anne Shirley has fine emotion- 
al depth in her work. She is one of the 
best dramatic actresses in pictures. James 
Ellison has not a great deal to do, but 
is agreeable. 

For Dalton Trumbo’s screen play it 
can be said that the dialogue is fluent. 
Perhaps the original story by Mary 
Coyle Chase caught campus psychology 
no better. Nicholas Musuraca has done 


HOLLYWOOD DOG 
TRAINING SCHOOL 

Carl Spitz, Owner 
Fritz Bache, Manager 

Phone 12350 Riverside Drive 

North Holly. 1262 No. Hollywood, Calif. 


APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE ELEVEN 


pleasant photographing, and other tech- 
nical contributions, including the con- 
siderable background music from Roy 
Webb, are of a good sort. 

Innocuous but scarcely stimulating. 
Some of the performances are good, but 
the yarn, about aspirants to sororities, 
misses the spirit of campus life. 

Another Gangster 
Film and Sullivan 

0 BIG TOWN CZAR; Universal production; 
directed by Arthur Lubin; associate producer, 
Ken Goldsmith; screen play, Edmund Hart- 
mann; based on original by Ed Sullivan; pho- 
tographed by Elwood Bredell; art director. 
Jack Otterson; film editor, Philip Cahn; musi- 
cal director, Charles Previn. Cast; Barton 
MacLane, Tom Brown, Eve Arden, Jack La 
Rue, Frank Jenks. Walter Woolf King, Oscar 
O'Shea, Esther Dale, Horace MacMahon, 
Jerry Marlowe, Ed Sullivan. Running time, 
62 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
ROUTINE gangster film. Purport- 
ing to remind us once again that 
only evil can be expected to come from 
the tenements, where only “the tough 
and ugly weeds” survive, the picture 
never allows its zeal for sociological 
preachment to get in the way of its 
spreading sundry excitements across the 
screen, shootings, gangster intrigues, and 
the like. I am not wholly questioning 
the sincerity of Ed Sullivan or Edmund 
Hartmann, authors respectively of the 
original story and screen play. I only 
point out that they have a convenient 
faculty for keeping one eye on the sen- 
sational. 

Authors of these preaching melo- 
dramas should branch out into more 
fruitful themes. Take, for instance, “It 
Is Wrong to Beat Your Wife” — think 
what drama would lie in the agonized 
screams of the missus as she is dragged 
across the floor by the hair. A purely 
illustrative incident, understand. Or 
better yet, “Never Hit Your Grandma 
With a Pickax" — the gory details 
would be simply colossal. 

Sullivan Prominently Cast 

<]] Be that as it may, the present picture 
is undistinguished in either story or 
treatment. As the story is told, the very 
basis of it is weak, since we cannot be- 
lieve that a boy who has been work- 
ing his way through college, spurning 
the assistance of his elder brother, a 
successful racketeer, would suddenly be 
tempted by the gift of a hundred dollar 
bill, left behind after the latter’s visit, 
into joining his brother in the racket- 
eering business. 

Barton MacLane and Tom Brown do 
about as well with the parts as could be 
done. Eve Arden has ability but has 
little chance to show it here. Statements 
of a similar pattern could be phrased for 
most of the other players. Oscar O’Shea 


and Esther Dale stand out as the grieved 
parents. 

Ed Sullivan acts as narrator in several 
parts of the picture and also plays him- 
self in a number of scenes. If he is am- 
bitious to add the art of Thespis to his 
literary attainments, it is to be hoped he 
is fortified to brave the critical estimates 
of his writing colleagues, able to take it 
as well as dish it out. Mr. Sullivan is 
terrible. Arthur Lubin directed. 

Inferior in story and treatment. Not 
for children, despite a veneer of moral 
preachment. 

Jonathan Asks for 
Rehearsal Reform 

/ N T HE last Spectator I made public 
a letter which Jonathan Hale wrote 
me without thought of its publica- 
tion. He writes me again, whether 
for publication or for my exclusive 
edification. I do not know, but, any- 
way. I pass the letter on to you . — 
\V. B. 

ELEORD! 

Do you think that’s nice? You have 
less conscience than a casting director. 
At your request I mail you a little nut 
of wisdom, something for your own 
convenience, and you don’t even bother 
to shell it — just toss it husk and all into 
your Spectator. Why, that’s like a di- 
rector printing a rehearsal you didn’t 
know was being shot. It’s just plain 
low. 

However, I must say you printed it 
in a fine looking magazine. Congratu- 
lations on the new Spectator. And pri- 
vately, Welford, I am flattered that you 
thought it good enough to print in the 
best publication in the business. 

Here is something that will interest 
you. Oliver Hinsdell. who announces 
his Studio of Dramatic Art in that same 
issue, came in this morning. He had 
just read my stuff about training peo- 
ple for the screen in an ordinary room. 
He says he is going one better. He is 
going to train his students on picture 
sets and with picture scripts and direct 
them as for camera and microphone. It 
seems the youngsters will be getting 
their money’s worth of practical in- 
struction. I don’t know of another set- 
up like this. Do you? 

Jonathan Discusses Rehearsing 

<1 The lack of adequate rehearsal is 
something that bothers many actors — 
particularly those fresh from the stage. 
You carry weight on questions of pro- 
duction results and I know you have 
thought about this. I’d like to give you 
one actor's angle to add to the rest of 
your data and to use, if you like, when 
you get around to it. The way it is 
now, we seldom have a reasonable time 


to digest our scenes before we put them 
on a strip of film for the world to look 
at. Actors go before the camera know- 
ing only their lines. 

In the few minutes of rehearsing we 
do to get the mechanics of the thing 
worked out for the camera, we must 
take from each other and give to each 
other all in way of meaning and char- 
acterization that we can snatch out of 
past experience. There is an opportun- 
ity to do something more with it in the 
closer shots that follow, but nothing 
very radical. 

Stage Allows More Time 

Recently I did an eight-page scene, 
my first in the picture and one of the 
most important in the story. I deliber- 
ately paced it slowly, with nonchalance 
and ease because that seemed the obvious 
thing. I felt, too, that I was giving it 
greater value by the contrast this would 
provide with what had happened be- 
fore, which of course, I had read but 
had not seen shot. Imagine my chag- 
rin when at the preview I found the 
whole picture was slowly paced. You 
may blame that on direction, writing, 
or supervision if you like, but the fact 
remains that I could have played my 
scene just as truthfully at a faster, more 
vital pace. This would have pulled up 
the tempo and vitality of the whole 
thing. Had I been there and seen and 
taken part in a rehearsal of the sequence, 
I would have done this. 

Now contrast this method of work- 
ing with the weeks of study, coaching 
and rehearsing a stage production gets. 
Somewhere in between lies a better way. 
I have benefited by, and been the vic- 
tim of, several variations, but I have 
never seen tried the thing which, to my 
mind, promises the most success from a 
performance point of view and, I sus- 
pect, from the angle of production econ- 
omy as well. 

Jonathan Makes Suggestion 

Here is the idea: Stop production 

around four-thirty or five o’clock and 
dismiss the crew. From then until six, 
rehearse what will be shot the follow- 
ing day. The cameraman and cutter 
should be present. The advantage of 
this is that the director has a chance to 
crystallize his ideas: he is, in a sense, 
visually a day ahead of his picture: the 
cameraman has a chance to unravel his 
problems: the cutter would be of help 
to both of them, and they to him. But 
most important, even if those three 
don’t see these advantages — and who am 
I to say?— the actors get time to think 
over their scene, sleep on it, digest it 
down to significant, rounded behavior, 
clean it up and sharpen it to its dra- 
matic essentials. And here I speak from 
experience. Many a scene has given me 
indigestion and I have given many a 

(Continued on page 19) 




PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


£wh 4 Plea for 

S ILENT screen technique in this talkie 
age has had no more able nor a more 
consistent defender than Welford Beat- 
on, editor of the Hollywood Spectator. 
Colleges think enough of Beaton and 
his writings to subscribe generously to 
his fearless, critical magazine. Women’s 
clubs study his writings. Cinema clubs 
view him as a defender of the celluloid 
faith and his publication as the cinema 
koran. I have seen almost eye to eye 
with him for years. 

Beaton came through Cleveland sev- 
eral years ago when I first began viewing 
films and asked me to come to his hotel 
to see him, and I felt a measure of grati- 
fication when he told me that in his 
years of visiting, touring, lecturing and 
writing he had never before asked a film 
reviewer to "come over and talk about 
the screen" with him. I suspect the film 
industry sees him as one of its more in- 
tellectual crack-pots who must be tol- 
erated, if not loved — and so I don’t 
know where I stand with it. But Beat- 
on’s prophecies have been so accurately 
fulfilled that little by little the producers 
surely must feel that he has a good deal 
which is worth listening to and worth 
following. 

Read It Several Times 

He sent me his newest contribution 
to the cinema shelves the other day. It 
is a booklet of not quite 100 pages, 
called A Plea and A Play. He has pub- 
lished it himself, in Hollywood. The 
inscription on the flyleaf reads, "To 
Ward Marsh, who, I hope, will agree 
once more with something I have writ- 
ten, Welford Beaton." 

I have read and read it several times, 
but even reading it the first time, so 
closely and completely do I agree "once 
more” with Beaton, that it seemed quite 
as if I were reading something I had 
written, the difference being that Beaton 
has expressed himself with a clarity and 
terseness I rarely possess. 

Less Talk Demanded 

•I He has boiled into one little essay in 
his Plea just about all he has written 
for and against the talkies since sound 
and dialogue came in. And his plea 
amounts to a charge that if the screen 
does not return to silent technique, using 
no more dialogue than it once used titles, 
its doom is sealed. No one asks for the 
completely silent screen, but everyone, 
most of all a public registering its pro- 
test at the box-offices, is demanding less 
talk, a wider and better use of music, 
and the spoken word used only when 
the visual image is incomplete without 
it. 

This screen art, contends Beaton, and 
I most heartily concur with him on all 
points, is essentially a visual one. The 


Silent ^Technique 


On This Page 

'THE Cleveland Plaindealer is Ohio's 
l greatest newspaper , and in journal- 
istic circles is recognized as one which 
would have a place on any intelli- 
gently compiled list of the ten great- 
est daily papers in the United States. 
I mention the standing of the Plain- 
dealer to explain the extent of my 
surprise and gratification when I dis- 
covered it had devoted a full column 
of valuable space in its issue of Sun- 
day. April 9, to a review of my 
book A Plea and A Play. The review 
was written by W. Ward Marsh, one 
of the country’s better screen com- 
mentators. With his permission and 
the Plaindealer' s approval, the full 
review is reprinted on this page . — 
W. B. 


appeal, as it is with music, is straight 
to the emotions, the movies striking 
through the eyes and music through 
the ears, but each reaching the emotions 
with as little tax as possible on the 
intellect. 

Dialogue does tax the mind, the in- 
tellect, and pictures told by dialogue 
rather than by moving images tax, tire 
and eventually exhaust the mind before 
the emotions are properly aroused and 
the spectator who was actually rested 
after a visit to the movie house in the 
silent days is not rested today in the 
talkie theatre. 

Do Not Meet Requirements 

<1 No picture today completely fulfills 
the requirements of silent technique. A 
picture, and this is my own example, 
coming closer to silent technique than 
of the others, would be Stagecoach. 
One fulfilling all the requirements of a 
talkie and yet being more flexible than 
one would anticipate from a stage play 
would be Pygmalion. 

Beaton pleads for more music, a judi- 
cious use of sound, the dropping of dia- 
logue when the players are too far from 
the spectator for him normally to hear 
their voices. He sums it up in one sen- 
tence, and that is: 

"Remedying the evil of too much dia- 
logue is merely a matter of developing 
intelligent camera technique.” 

What Story Is About 

<1 He proved his case by writing in "si- 
lent technique” a script which he has 
called "A Dog Has His Day," a com- 
plete story with 1 62 spoken lines against 
1,500 to 2,500 in the average film of 
today. This limitation of the spoken 
word has in no way cramped his style. 
There is no literary style in pure cine- 


BY 

W. WARD MARSH 

ma, anyway, and here is the simple but 
emotionally effective story of a vegeta- 
ble man who befriended an orphan girl. 
She grew up, was given a Scottie puppy, 
loved by the rich young hero who was 
in turn loved by the rich young girl. At 
the climax when it looked as if the 
heroine’s benefactor would be crippled 
for life, she entered her puppy in a dog 
show where, after good emotional scenes, 
he ran off with first prize, and was sold 
for an amount sufficient to pay doctor’s 
bill and hospital expenses to restore her 
foster-parent to health — but, as it is in 
the kind of fiction we like best to read, 
the story ended happily with her puppy 
back safely in her arms and the rich 
young man holding out his to receive 
both of them. 

Recommends the Book 

<1 1 most urgently recommend Mr. 
Beaton’s little book. It presents in the 
most concise form I have yet seen twenty 
difficult lessons in screen writing in one 
easy lesson. More than that its appeal 
is for the return to sanity in film 
making. 

I hope he "wins” — and the new 
"blood” coming into the field quite 
rapidly these days will see to it that he 
— and you — eventually will win. I can’t 
give you the price of his new book.* 
It can’t be very high for it has only a 
paper cover and is inexpensively gotten 
up. If you are interested in the future 
of the movies and in one of the best dis- 
cussions of the day on films, you may 
reach the author by writing to him in 
care of the Hollywood Spectator, 6513 
Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Cal. 

A copy of the Annalist, published 
about tbe same time as Mr. Beaton’s 
book, gives about the same picture as 
Beaton does of the industry, but differ- 
ent reasons are given for the slump 
which hit the films in the second quarter 
last year. 

Beaton holds to the view that talkies 
talk people from the theatre, and the 
trade papers are at variance with Beaton. 
Good pictures in the first runs, weak 
ones in the small towns, and that "box- 
office poison” squawk which hurt many 
stars and the industry, too, all served to 
lower last year’s reports. 


★ A radio sports commentator quips 
that the difference between a wrestling 
match and a moving picture is that the 
latter moves. He must have missed some 
of the talkies we have seen. 


★ More than two dozen Hollywood 
film publications have given up the 
ghost during the Spectator’s span of life. 


*Price, One Dollar. 


APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE THIRTEEN 


BY 

BRUNO DAVID USSHER 


'Jilt* tfltiMc and J)tJ tflakerA 


O ONE man can read the annual re- 
port made by Will H. Hays, as pres- 
ident of the Motion Picture Producers 
and Distributors of America, with any- 
thing but keen appreciation of the so- 
cial significance exerted by the film as 
a public entertainment and educational 
medium. Only one brief and quite gen- 
eral reference however is made to music 
although the Hays’s summary of the 
trends and functions of the cinema in 
America is entitled: "Enlarging Scope 

of the Screen." This is greatly to be 
regretted and does no justice to the 
large and artistically high contribution 
made by hundreds of the best musicians 
and sound engineers to the cultural and 
commercial advancement of this "art 
industry," as President Hays aptly calls 
it. But this omission is characteristic 
of a rather prevalent attitude in most 
executive and promotional branches of 
Hollywood where public appreciation of 
music is underrated sadly. And, if it 
is not actually underrated, then this 
ideal avenue of "salesmanship" remains 
deplorably deserted to the disadvantage 
of all those sharing an interest in the 
art industry as producing, selling and 
individually consuming agents. 

Slight Not Intended 

<1 I am fully aware of the fact that 
Will Hays had no intention of slighting 
so vital a branch of his art industry as 
that of music. Neither need he be re- 
minded what films would be without 
musicians and music recording experts. 

I am aware, too, that his written ad- 
dress to the American producers and 
distributors of motion pictures is not 
meant as an aesthetic dissertation. But 
that a paper on the "Enlaring Scope of 
the Screen" should make repeated ref- 
erence to the "most popular stars, ablest 
writers, best directors, most skilful tech- 
nicians," and make no minimum speci- 
fication of orchestra, composers, con- 
ductors, writers of songs, of lyrics, of 
singers and instrumentalists, many of 
the latter the best from the outstanding 
orchestras of the country — that surely 
is strange. 

Will Hays devotes three and a half of 
his twenty-six-page report to "Com- 
munity Service" and to "Education.” 
He speaks of cooperative contacts with 
the National Education Association since 
1922: he also speaks of the cinema com- 
mittee of the "International Council of 
Women" and their objective "educa- 
tion of public taste.” 

Hays's Brief Mention 

<J Here it is that the Hays report faint- 
ly acknowledges music as a factor in 
this "art industry.” Here he refers to 
the regular service rendered by his Hol- 
lywood office which "stresses motion 


picture appreciation by discussing the 
educational and other features of indi- 
vidual film production.” And now 
comes the single reference to music: 
"Moreover, through the progress of this 
work the National Federation of Music 
Clubs has been added to the list of pre- 
viewers, following their approval of 
what the screen has done to advance in- 
terest in music.” 

Fortunately for Will Hays and luck- 
ily for those making film music, the com- 
munity service and education depart- 
ment of the Hays's office in Hollywood 
is headed by Mrs. Thomas G. Winter 
and Mrs. H. D. Field, who perceive and 
present film music as high and infinitely 
far reaching from every practical and 
pedagogic angle. 

Entertainment and Box-Office 

<J Far be it from me to remind Will 
Hays publicly of what he must be 
aware. He closes the very first para- 
graph of his report with: ". . . there is 
nothing incompatible between the best 
interests of the box-office and the kind 
of entertainment that raises the level of 
audience appreciation whatever the sub- 
ject treated." And he proceeds to re- 
mind his producers: "The discussion 

that proceeds (as to commercial and 
cultural) is the greatest possible tribute 
to the progress of the screen, for it is 
proof of the fact that an entertainment 
art for the millions has risen to such 
high estate that the best which the liv- 
ing theatre has been able to produce or 
which other artistry can create, is now 
demanded from the film. 

Frankly, it irks me, a believer in the 
commercial, vocational and artistic func- 
tion of music, that President Hays 
should choose to refer only to "other 
artistry" and not dignify music by di- 
rect mention, although commensurate 
music makes a contribution without 
which even the best plot, speech, act- 
ing and photography remain incomplete 
in their combined appeal. And by com- 
mensurate music, I mean a sufficient 
amount of the best music. Again, the 
"best" music does not imply a four- 
part fugue in six flats. In fact, a lone, 
lowly mouth organ can prove eloquent 
of man’s state of heart, as demonstrated 
by Victor Young in his Man of Con- 
quest score. 

Subtlest of All Factors 

<J Cooperation of the National Federa- 
tion of Music Clubs in drawing more 
direct attention to pictures with mu- 
sically worthwhile scores is a recog- 
nition for which Hollywood musicians 
may be deeply grateful to Mrs. Winter 
and Mrs. Field. Letters of inquiry and 
acknowledgement reaching me from the 
music research council of the National 


Education Association indicate that mu- 
sically well-equipped pictures may even- 
tually count on an enormous number 
of financially vastly profitable endorse- 
ments by public school music teachers 
throughout the country. Will Hays, 
when warning producers that they must 
not rely on American bookings alone, 
but calculate sales appeal also in terms 
and tastes of foreign showings, might 
well have included music as a big and 
indispensable aid. 

Of course, music, subtlest of all cine- 
matic factors, is still in its beginnings, 
certainly quantitatively. I wonder at 
times if Hollywood musicians them- 
selves fully vision their social artistic re- 
sponsibilities. Again, they must have 
the articulate support from lay music 
lovers and educators alike in order to 
convince certain ignorantly economic 
producers. 

Strong But Not Noisy 

<J| Victor Young's extensive background 
score for Man of Conquest forms a dra- 
matically indispensable and generally 
strong contribution to this Republic 
production. It is a strong, yet not noisy 
score for a film moving vividly in terms 
of physical action and emotional stress. 
Some day, a chapter in film music his- 
tory will have to be devoted to music 
in films based on American bibliography 
and history, and the Young score will 
be listed as an example for its thought- 
ful and unobvious use of American mu- 
sic. Naturally, pictures such as Alex- 
ander's Ragtime Band or the Castle 
films will be included, but more as film 
musical documentations of tunes. In 
those pictures, the popular songs a score 
of years ago are the excuse for the 
pictures. 

In Young's score, these American 
tunes fulfil a higher function, for they 
attest the Americanism of Sam Houston 
and his period. Victor Young has gone 
to these tunes as a folklorist does to 
identify a race by their songs and in 
turn to diagnose the character of songs 
by the milieu from which they sprang 
and to which they gave living color. 

Parallel or Portent 

<| There are times when I should have 
preferred more music, and when I was 
conscious of music being limited to 
rather brief episodes: while rapidly and 
radically changing scenes in Man of 
Conquest would have made it difficult, 
no doubt, to write even "against the 
scene.” One is apt to grow weary of 
too much action accent hitting, or shall 
I call it action metric music? Music 
can match the general pace of a scene, 
or it can go "against" the scene by serv- 
ing as an outside, narratively reflecting 
commentator. It can prove an auditory 



PAGE FOURTEEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


“flash-back” by relating the scene cur- 
rent on the screen with a scene or dia- 
logue seen or heard earlier in the picture. 

Thus it may be “motivating” music. 
Too, it can express premeditation and 
foretell or foreshadow what may be 
said or may happen. Victor Young has 
applied these various principles. What 
makes this score significant is that he 
has not written a prescription for him- 
self and dosed himself time and again. 
He has analyzed, scene by scene, I 
would judge, and then diagnosed wheth- 
er he needed paralleling action music, 
or music of portentous character, what- 
ever this portent. 

Campfire Not Moonlight 

There is a danger of expecting some 
metaphorical nightingale to go into 
some belcanto by way of some properly 
sweetened violins or flutes. In Man of 
Conquest the heroine, when chided by 
her mother over the dish-pan that her 
friend still had a wife living somewhere, 
goes out to him and tells him of her 
love and of her loyalty in defiance of 
all what the “nice girl” of that tightly- 
laced period would not do. “Now I 
have said it,” she punctuates and under- 
lines her disregard of convention. And 
he, still afraid to claim her until he had 
established his claim to a new existence, 
fights within himself, not to smother 
her and hold her with all that is yearn- 
ing in him for her. Perhaps there should 
have been music, a kind of music far 
different from Moonlight and Roses, of 
course. 

Trying It Either Way 

<| It would have had to be music com- 
pounded of every dramatic psychologi- 
cal motif, stirring and restraining the 
two lovers. Could it be done in this 
brief campfire scene with its brief cres- 
cendo of action and deliberate speech? 
Are the subsequent scenes such as to 
compose through them in that vein 
without underlaying a background mu- 
sic quite alien to them? Having wit- 
nessed Man of Conquest once only, I 
cannot go beyond speculating. Most 
times, one can only (attempt to) judge 
what one has heard. What one wishes 
to hear is another matter, and if by 
some miracle one’s wishes were fulfilled 
in a film musical laboratory, then still 
the test of audition might go against 
one’s wishes. 

I have just seen again You Can’t 
Take It With You. I believe more 
could have been done with it musically 
than actually was done. One scene, 
however, impressed me as effective with- 
out “benefit of music.” I am referring 
to the park scene, when the two inartic- 
ulate lovers sit on a bench and a little 
waterfall in the background furnishes 
sufficient urgency of action and sound. 
No “Caro Nome” of any kind could 
have added proof that these two young 


things are dumbly crazy about each 
other and will go through with it. 

No Sausages, Please 

<5 Of course, there is not the slightest 
doubt in my mind that while the beau- 
tifully low dialogue of the two sweet- 
hearts in You Can’t Take It With You 
is in its present form a sort of verbal 
song of their hearts, the Man of Con- 
quest declaration of love could have 
been strengthened by music. I mean 
that music should have commenced pos- 
sibly prior to the dishwashing scene 
and that scenes following the campfire 
episode should have been transferred or 
transposed so that Young could have 
composed through them without dis- 
torting their mood. 

That would imply the composer’s 
presence when the script is put together, 
when the action is photographed and 
when the film is assembled, cut and 
edited. I will be told that this would 
mean paying the composer for six days’ 
or six weeks' more or less hectic efforts. 

I will be told that this would make 
music too heavy an item in the budget. 

As Composers View It 

The better composers in Hollywood 
today, I believe, would rather go on a 
weekly salary of moderate size and have 
the same creative time privileges accord- 
ed other artists in the film world, than be 
compelled to perform some legerdemain 
at a speed which is bound to limit some 
of the best in them. The trouble is that 
producers too often still think of music 
as electrically speeded sausage machines. 
I have no intention of applying this re- 
mark to the producer of Man of Con- 
quest, for I understand Republic studios 
believe in ample scores. On the whole, 
however, Hollywood producers and di- 
rectors underestimate the function of 
music in relation to films. They are 
unaware of the “script difficulties” of 
a composer, script difficulties far more 
complex and subtle t han those of writ- 
ers and directors because the composer 
must fit his script to that of the screen 
playwright and director. 

It might cost studios a little more to 
put a composer on a weekly salary basis 
from the script stage on, than hand him 
a flat sum for writing a score, yet the 
difference would be worth the increased 
calibre of the film by virtue of a film- 
ically finer score. I venture to say that 
the better composers would be willing 
to sit in during the script stage before 
their weekly stipend period commences, 
just for the sake of producing some- 
thing more artistic. One reason for the 
number of musical blowouts are pre- 
vailing racetrack tempi in making scores. 

Within Spirit of Time 

If Victor Young has conceived a score 
for Man of Conquest which keeps with- 
in the spirit of the times. It was not 


wb one aid ca; 1 an “instrumental” 
time. The use of singing voices in the 
main i.itle and the closing sequence is a 
thoughtful touch and, used in both 
places, seems to frame the picture like 
the fore and end page decorations of a 
book. Patriotic and folk songs are 
drawn on. I stress “drawn on” because 
Young adapts sometimes not more than 
the characteristic melodic turn out of 
which he evolves his own themes. 

Doing this, he has avoided every- 
thing which would give the score the 
smattering of an American medley of 
the old style band music style, while 
nevertheless setting atmosphere and aim- 
ing at a heart response which lives in 
everyone to whom this story of Tennes- 
see and Texas means more than dead 
and dusty history. Use of a little reed 
organ only in the wedding scene was 
better than anything elaborate Young 
could have chosen, for this is the story 
of a plain man, though nevertheless the 
story of a man of strong feelings and 
strong determination. 

Fine Sense of Proportion 

<1 Young has never tried to glorify Sam 
Houston or make scenes bigger beyond 
their actual significance. In this score 
he reminds me of the man who illum- 
inates with a touch of color, and with 
gold at times, the large initials at the 
top of a chapter page or paragraph. The 
result is that sometimes the text itself 
has been left black and white, as it were, 
at seemingly long stretches. He has not 
used his colors gaudily either. Houston 
"stewing” in his river boat cabin, 
brooding over the desertion of his wife 
could not have been painted a lonelier 
figure than by the sound of a mouth 
organ. Actually trick-muted violins. 

The simple fiddle tune in the camp 
scene again demonstrates a fine sense of 
proportion without being an attempt 
at realism. Time and again, I was sur- 
prised at the absence of music, yet the 
use of the delicate little tune Come to 
the Rower as a riding-fighting tune 
when Houston’s Texans charge the 
Mexican army, is a brilliant touch in its 
winsome simplicity. In the battle scene, 
too. Young does not make grandilo- 
quent war music. He treats it as drama 
of great suspense to his characters and 
to a man to whom Texas means future 
life and love. 

Thematic Development 

By no means do I wish to give the 
impression that Young has played pure- 
ly the miniaturist. It is lithographic 
music rather than color printing most 
of the time. There is real seething in 
the oil fire sequence, but the slowly 
dragging, winding theme for the retreat, 
the curiously, sweltering suspense music 
before the battle are curiously graphic 
in their discard of everything superflu- 
ously coloristic. Young’s musical Amer- 


APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE FIFTEEN 


icanism is cleverly instanceo with a 
hymn-like melody based on My Coun- 
try 'tis of hee, expressive also of Presi- 
dent Jackson's devotion to his country. 
Altogether Young has done more by 
way of thematic development than can 
be pointed out here. Quite unusual is 
his process of transforming an old- 
fashioned polka dance theme into a 
love motif. (Houston meets his second 
wife at a dance in the White House.) 
There is an earlier love theme — the first 
Mrs. Houston was a Tennesseean — and 
so Young has gone to a Southern court- 
ing song: I Knew a Lady So Kind and 
Sweet. 

A Reaction Score 

<1 All in all. one might describe Victor 
Young’s Man of Conquest music a 
“reaction” score, although the tie be- 
tween action is close. The music never 
attempts to stampede emotions. In the 
midst of battle, for instance, Houston’s 
aide hauls down the enemy flag and 
hoists the Stars and Stripes. A bullet 
strikes him down, but sinking to the 
ground he pulls the colors to the full 
height of the mast. Young enters neith- 
er into tonal heroics nor a dirge, but 
over the tide of sound rises a bugle call, 
softly, yet in significant triumph. Or, 
to come back to his music for the 
charge: No blaring bugles; the piccolo 
trills that quaint Come to the Bower 
motif over sustained notes of drums and 
strings. (From a modernist standpoint 
the bunching of E-flat, E-major and F- 
major is noteworthy.) It tells enough 
of onrush and tension. 

I have already mentioned the psy- 
chological effect of the retreat motif, 
showing weary riders and weary horses. 
The clinging sound of a dull vibraphone 
emphasizes the heaviness of spirit and 
body dragged on seemingly without 
aim. The use of Indian themes or that 
naive barn dance with a little plumage 
borrowed from Turkey In the Straw 
bring the score again down to immedi- 
ate reality. 

Man of Conquest is not a grandilo- 
quent picture although it does recite 
sentiments which will re-echo in an 
America of sane patriotism. Young has 
not turned out the musical honor guard 
and fired his musical musketry just for 
the love of banking away. I say again 
that I wish he had added more music 
yet, for this is a score of unusual blend- 
ing of action and reaction music, writ- 
ten with an unusual and inventive 
craftsmanship. 


★ Foreign films are growing in popu- 
larity in this country. There are now 
eight houses in Los Angeles screening 
such films. This growth of cosmospoli- 
tan taste is one of the factors which 
eventually will force Hollywood to 
abandon the making of shoddy films 
and concentrate upon quality products. 


ikti Holllficeod 

GOOD sized nail is hit resoundingly 
on the head by B. R. Crisler, writ- 
ing in the New York Times on the 
stereotyped “glamour” with which Hol- 
lywood is wont to encase its feminine 
players. One of the most baneful influ- 
ences on the motion picture art, he 
opines, is the artifice of make-up and 
costuming, which have slowly ripened 
into “monstrous perfection . . . through 
the activities of those painstaking pyg- 
malions” of the make-up and wardrobe 
departments. 

“For,” Crisler contends, “in the 
movies glamour is strictly an applied 
art: a beauty not even skin deep which 
melts in the sun, streaks in the rain . . . 
a mask to be removed at night, expos- 
ing the tired, all-too-human tissues be- 
neath. And this, precisely, is the basic 
fallacy of the glamour concept: that it 
violates the most fundamental canon of 
what remains, after all, an inescapably 
naturalistic art. Hollywood’s denatured 
dream girls are, of necessity, spiritually 
static, with no more ‘soul’ than a geisha. 
With the make-up man constantly 
standing by to pat the perspiration from 
her face and with ‘wardrobe’ dancing 
attendance to guard. her gown (specially 
designed to minimize anatomical de- 
fects) from wrinkles, she is far above 
the plane of mortal infirmities, and con- 
sequently is as uninteresting, psycho- 
logically, as a statue in a museum." 

Who Is Who? 

€J Truly spoken. Moreover, it is not 
only humanness actresses are robbed of 
by this striving for superficial perfec- 
tion, but also individuality, so stand- 
ardized have the methods of the glam- 
our craftsmen become. Make-up men 
arc by far the greatest offenders. Many 
young actresses are placed under an 
actual handicap in impressing them- 
selves on the public mind. Almost all 
of them look alike. Especially is this 
to be noticed in the publicity stills ap- 
pearing in the press. Not uncommonly 
I have difficulty in recognizing an estab- 
lished player, and more often than not 
in the case of a newer actress I have to 
consult the caption before the photo- 
graph conveys any impression of an en- 
tity, and this despite the fact that I am 
in close touch with the industry. Such 
pictures are dominantly but a repetition 
of the familiar sweepingly arched eye- 
brows, suspiciously long eyelashes, and 
lips bowed like ravens’ wings. 

Anachronism Created 

CJ Where the standardized make-up has 
its most distracting influence, with re- 
spect to the dramatic values of motion 
pictures, is in costume dramas, where 
the faces of the feminine players gen- 
erally create a gross anachronism. 


BY 

BERT HARLEN 

The other day, while lunching at a 
studio commissary, I looked forth upon 
an aggregation of women at a near-by 
table who were arrayed in costumes of 
the Civil War or late Victorian period, 
at least of an era when make-up was 
used sparingly, if at all, by women. 
Each actress, however, was done up as 
though she were in the Follies. Why 
directors allow such violations of the 
visual compositions upon which the 
dramatic potency of motion pictures 
principally is dependent, is something 
I could never understand. Sums of 
money and great pains and time are ex- 
pended on gathering historical data and 
working for authenticity in the screen 
play, the sets, properties, costumes, and 
then feminine players are permitted to 
insert faces into the scene which look 
made-up for a burlesque. 

* * 

He Carries On 

WICE I have seen him alight late at 
night from one of those rickety and 
grimy “V" street cars which service Ver- 
mont Avenue of Los Angeles, and dis- 
appear into the darkness of a neighbor- 
hood of apartment houses which is 
barely respectable. At first glance one 
might think his clothes nobby. They 
are well pressed, of good tailoring, and 
the brim of his hat is jauntily turned 
down all around. But closer inspection, 
especially of the slanting heels of his 
shoes, tells a different story. 

Once his creation of a country boy 
on the screens of the world, a strangely 
wistful, dreamy fellow, sprung from 
the earth, appealed to millions. His 
name was as important in the motion 
picture firmament as that of Charles 
Chaplin or Mary Pickford: had his own 
studio. It is a name which would be 
prominent in any history of the great 
industry. 

To No One's Credit 

<J The circumstances attending his ap- 
parent difficulty I am not acquainted 
with. Maybe he is too proud to accept 
financial assistance. More than likely 
little or none has been proffered. It 
would seem, though, that some one 
among the famous and influential Hol- 
lywood personalities he has known in 
the past, could offer or procure for him 
some position in motion picture work 
which would enable him to live on a 
respectable scale — out of sentiment, if 
for no other reason: out of respect for 
a figure who played so great a part in 
the building of the industry which has 
showered them with success and riches 
so abundantly, and partly through the 
grace of Providence. From some aspects 
Hollywood seems a very callous place. 



PAGE SIXTEEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


yieu? £pectatct Jwmat pleaAeA tfeaderA 


Don Ameche — Congratulations on your anni- 
versary number. Your record is one of con- 
tinual achievement and I know that all Holly- 
wood joints me in wishing you many more 
years of success. 

Cary Grant — With anything as candid, cour- 
ageous and constructive as the Spectator, 
the bigger the better. Congratulations on the 
new size and format. 

Kay Francis — You could print it on butcher 
paper and it would still be on my "must" 
list. But the new size and shiny paper are 
a definite improvement. 

Frank McDonald — I want to congratulate you 
on the latest Spectator; the new form and 
set-up is very attractive and bright. 

Barbara Stanwyck — You deserve a few thou- 
sand more subscribers. 

David Niven — The Spectator's contents leave 
no room for improvement, so I suppose if you 
had to do something, there was nothing left 
but to make it larger and smoother. Con- 
gratulations on a fine job. 

Bob Burns — Your new paper is slick; your 
editor always has been. 

Joy Hodges — Greetings to the Spectator on 
its fourteenth birthday, and congratulations 
on the new dress and make-up. 

Warner Baxter — The Spectator may still be in 
its teens, but it is a wise, wise child. May 
it live to a ripe old age, Welford. 

Alice Faye — You can be justly proud of your 
fine record. My wishes for your continued 
success. 

Chester Morris — Nice to see the Hollywood 
Spectator in its brand new 1939 clothes. 
Looks like a honey . . . congratulations! 
Lucille Ball — The Spectator has grown up in 
size and dress. The new format fits my read- 
ing table perfectly. 

William Keighley — It all proves that a con- 
structive editorial policy pays. 

Richard Greene — Your opinions are a price- 
less service to the industry. Keep up the 
good work. 

Sonja Henie — Heartiest wishes for your con- 
tinued success. 

Humphrey Bogart — The best of luck to the 
revitalized Spectator in its new form. 

Priscilla Lane — I like the Spectator in its new 
garb. 

Madeleine Carroll — Good work, Welford. I 
like the new size and your method of han- 
dling reviews of extraordinary pictures. 
Tyrone Power — Birthday greetings to the 
Spectator. It's the top. 

Wendy Barrie — Congratulations on the new 
size and make-up of the Hollywood Spec- 
tator. I like it even better in this new, larger, 
easy-to-read format. 

Bryan Foy — May the Spectator have many 
more years of Beaton success. 

John Cromwell — It always has been a pleas- 
ure to read the Spectator for its constructive 
comments on screen affairs. Its new. form 
adds to the pleasure. 

Joel McCrea — Congratulations on your new 
Spectator. 

William Dieterle — The enlarged Spectator 
should allow this worthy publication to mate- 
rially increase its scope. 

Errol Flynn — I wish the Spectator the great- 
est possible good fortune under its new 
policy. 

Fred MacMurray — Happiness. 

Olivia de Havilland — If the first issue of your 
enlarged paper is any indication, my inter- 
est, which is already great, is going to be 
substantially enhanced. 


On This Page 

HILE we were so busy getting 
out a Spectator in a new form 
which would please us, it never oc- 
curred to us to wonder how its read- 
ers would like it. But after the last 
issue appeared, all, dolled up in its 
new clothes, we not. for long were 
left in doubt aboaf how it pleased 
others. Apparently we fashioned bet- 
ter than we expected or underestimat- 
ed the degree of friendship readers 
have for the Spectator, for We were 
totally unprepared for the avalanche 
of approving messages which poured 
in on it. 

In the belief that readers outside 
of Hollywood will be interested in 
learning how the Spectator is regard- 
ed by its neighbors, we asked the 
publicity departments of the various 
studios to secure for us statements for 
publication to amplify those already 
received by word of mouth, letter, 
telephone and. in not a few cases, by 
telegraph. On this page. then, is 
what Hollywood thinks of the Spec- 
tator. 


Lee Tracy — Though it won't fit with my old 
file of the Spectator which I have kept for 
years. I'll be starting a new one with this 
new, slick-looking size. Altogether, a definite 
forward step. 

George Brent — I'm delighted to see the Spec- 
tator take on added significance. 

Andy Devine — Happy birthday and lots of 
luck in the new get-up. 

Max Steiner — Congratulations to you, Wel- 
ford. 

Gregory Ratoff — Congratulations, Welford. 
Your Spectator should get the award for the 
best production of the decade. My wishes 
for many more happy birthdays. 

Irene Hervey — Felicitations on your anniver- 
sary, and best wishes for many happy 
readers. 

Leo Carrillo — The new dress and make-up 
of the Spectator now match the high qual- 
ity of its contents. I always have enjoyed 
reading the magazine and will like it even 
more in its new garb. 

John Mack Brown — Happy birthday, pardner, 
and keep calling your shots. 

Steffi Duna — "Fine feathers make fine birds," 
it is said, and certainly the Spectator is more 
than worthy of the improvement in paper 
and size. It is now made-up in a manner to 
fit its high quality. It is one magazine I 
never fail to read. 

Bette Davis- — Congratulations to Welford 
Beaton upon the increased size of the Spec- 
tator. 

Rob Wagner — If the Spectator had to be im- 
proved, the only way to do it was to make 
it typographically more attractive, because 
the literary quality has always been at its 
peak. A long life and a merry one! 

Charlie McCarthy — Congratulations to the 
new Spectator, and let the sparks fly. Ditto 
from Bergen. 

Henry Koster — Best of luck to the new Spec- 
tator. 


Hal B. Wallis — The new format of the Spec- 
tator gives your worthy publication the addi- 
tional importance that it merits. 

Jack Benny — Hollywood's best magazine be- 
fore; the world's now. 

Bing Crosby — You have a real message, Wel- 
ford. You deserve a swell new suit like this 
slick paper. 

Jane Withers — To Mr. Beaton and the Specta- 
tor, greetings, and may you always be 
happy. P.S. It’s my thirteenth birthday, too! 
foe Pasternak — Heartiest congratulations on 
your fourteenth anniversary, and best wishes 
for continued success. 

Lloyd Bacon — Your new format indicates an- 
other important step forward. 

J. Carrol Naish — I have been waiting for an 
opportunity to tell you what an influence you 
are to good motion picture production. In 
sound and action the industry is following 
your advice day by day. I have noticed the 
trend. 

Allan Dwan — Anniversary greetings. Yours 
is a brilliant record. 

Claudette Colbert — Slick paper or that un- 
shiny stuff, Welford. You have what it takes, 
no matter what the material. 

Crane Wilbur — Congratulations to you, Wel- 
ford Beaton. 

Henry King — It is we who celebrate the Spec- 
tator's thirteenth birthday and its attractive 
new form. Its intelligent, penetrating criti- 
cism is a constructive factor in the motion 
picture industry. 

Juanita Quigley — Many happy returns, Mr. 
Beaton. 

Bob Hope — Congrats, Welford, on the new 
Spectator. This is my tenth year on the sub- 
scription list — or is it twenty? 

Irving Cummings — My blessings on the Spec- 
tator and its justly proud father, Welford. 
Hally Chester, of Universal's "Little Tough 
Guys" — Congratulations, mister. Not a bad- 
looking sheet. 

Frank Borzage — No dispute as to which mag- 
azine is best in your line. 

Henry Blanke — I am glad to note that the 
Spectator continues to improve. 

Norman Foster — To Welford Beaton. Many 
happy returns of the day to you and your 
Spectator. 

Nan Grey — Greetings on your fourteenth 
anniversary, and loads of luck and pros- 
perity. 

Gracie and Georgie — Many happy returns of 
subscriptions. You have our regards. 

Wesley Ruggles — Come over and have lunch 
with me, Welford. I want to buy it in cele- 
bration. 

Sidney Lanfield — May the Spectator's four- 
teenth year be its best. 

Mischa Auer — Congratulations to the Spec- 
tator on its fourteenth anniversary. The old- 
er you get, the better you look. 

George Archainbaud — Your staff is tops — 
the magazine is great, Welford. 

Michael Curtiz — Now the Spectator will be 
able to render increased service to the in- 
dustry. 

Cesar Romero — My sincere wishes for many 
more fruitful years. 

Cecil B. deMille — "Union Pacific" isn't stream- 
lined like your new magazine, but I hope it's 
as good a show. 

Nancy Kelly — Congratulations to you and the 
new Spectator. From one of your many ad- 
mirers. 

(Continued on page 19) 



APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE SEVENTEEN 


BY 

INA ROBERTS 


ficckd and 'Jitm* 


Pennsylvania D.A.R. 

IJ This organization has a national mo- 
tion picture chairman and also a motion 
picture chairman for each state. The 
chairman for Pennsylvania, Mrs. Ray- 
mond H. Bear, reports that 62 of the 
127 chapters in her state have motion 
picture chairmen, that 25 chapters are 
cooperating with other organizations, 
that 1 8 have one meeting a year de- 
voted to motion pictures, that 35 chap- 
ters report satisfactory cooperation with 
local theatre managers, that nine chap- 
ters have active junior members. 

Mrs. Bear also states that double fea- 
tures are being eliminated gradually and 
that her chapters are active in placing 
study guides and stills in schools and 
libraries. 

Mentioned as outstanding in film 
work is the Berks County Chapter, in 
Reading, Pennsylvania, Miss Grace 
Frame, chairman. This chapter was one 
of the organizers of the Motion Picture 
Forums, started last September, whose 
president is the English teacher in the 
high school. The schools have photo- 
play appreciation classes. 

Miss Frame won the national prize 
from Hollywood for securing the great- 
est number of subscriptions to the 
D.A.R. Motion Picture Guide. 

This seems to be a fine report, espe- 
cially when it is remembered that film 
work is only one of the many activities 
of the Daughters of the American Revo- 
lution. 

Greater Detroit Picture Council 

The Greater Detroit Motion Picture 
Council, Mr. W. W. Whittinghill, 
president, has the following list of well 
defined aims: (a) to secure and dis- 

tribute information concerning the com- 
plete programs of the motion picture 
industry; (b) to emphasize parental re- 
sponsibility in motion picture selection; 
(c) to know and cooperate with theatre 
managers; (d) to investigate and evalu- 
ate film productions; (e) to support and 
publicize approved films; (f) to work 
cooperatively with agencies in reducing 
violations of good taste in advertising; 
(g) to urge booking of more educa- 
tional and travel films in community 
theatres; (h) to voice opinions in con- 
structive manner concerning those ac- 
tivities of the industry and theatres 
which are considered to be detrimental 
to the welfare of audiences; (i) to urge 
the use of approved films in all com- 
munity centers; (j) to keep informed 
on all phases of film legislation, produc- 
tion, distribution and use, including the 
study of international film problems; 
(k) to cooperate with all public agen- 
cies in a program of better films; (1) to 
initiate public relation programs; (m) 
to integrate and coordinate all program 


activities of the Council; (n) to report 
and appraise the result of these pro- 
grams. 

The Hobby Family 

Libraries should rejoice in the fact 
that Warner Brothers will produce, this 
summer, a picture to be titled The Hob- 
by Family. The story concerns a fam- 
ily whose members indulge in assorted 
hobbies. Henry O’Neill will be the 
head of the family; Jane Bryan will 
have the feminine lead as his daughter. 

There is a wealth of good books 
about hobbies and libraries have ever 
been active in circulating these. With 
the times tending toward more leisure, 
the subject of hobbies becomes increas- 
ingly important. The pensions of many 
retired persons are sufficient for living 
expenses, but do not allow a margin to 
take care of the expense that must be 
incurred if leisure is to be enjoyed or 
become of benefit. Of course, books are 
a blessing but no one can read all of 
the time. Many of these retired people 
are alone in the world and for these to 
make a home would be a lonely way 
out. An inexpensive hobby is one sat- 
isfactory solution of the problem. 

It seems difficult to believe there are 
individuals who do not know there are 
a large number of books that will great- 
ly increase the benefit and enjoyment to 
be gained from riding a hobby horse. 
Yet on one occasion, after I had broad- 
cast an "Everyman’s Treasure House” 
program consisting in part of a list of 
books on the making of marionettes, a 
man came to the Cleveland Library and 
said he had been making marionettes for 
years but that, until he heard the radio 
talk, he did not know that there would 
be books that would help him. 

A Study Club Suggestion 

This is the season when most clubs 
prepare their programs for next season. 
Why do not history clubs, and also 
those including some study of history, 
in their year’s activities, plan this work 
in connection with coming important 
historical films' 1 This idea, if adopted 
by clubs throughout the country, would 
be a challenge to producers to make his- 
torical films as authentic as to plot as 
they already are as to period. 

The same idea applies to biographical 
films and is particularly appropriate for 
travel films. How delightful to see a 
film depicting an interesting locality at 
the same time one is learning about it. 

Embarrassing Film Titles 

CJJ Libraries doing film cooperation are 
often put to it to find a way out when 
some film with which they wish to co- 
operate, bears a title that, posted in a 
library, is wholly inappropriate and oc- 
casionally ridiculous. Both producers 


and theatre managers should remember 
that people are in one mood in a the- 
atre, but usually in quite a different 
mood in a library, even though they 
may have come there to get books con- 
necting with some film. 

A Film Star's Hobby 

<11 Certainly, the film stars can give us 
lessons in the variety of their hobbies 
and the eagerness with which they pur- 
sue them. George Brent, for instance, 
finds relaxation in blacksmithing. This 
actor has a combination machine, car- 
pentry and blacksmithing shop in his 
home, where he fashions many useful 
and beautiful articles for himself and 
his friends. He has just given Bette 
Davis, with whom he is working in 
The Old Maid, a set of wrought-iron 
garden furniture for her new Brentwood 
home. 

CURRENT FILMS 

Alexander Graham Bell — Don Amechc, 

Loretta Young; released 3-29; rev. 

Spec. 4-15. 20th-Fox 

Calling Dr. Kildare — Formerly Dr. Kil- 
dare’s Mistake; Lionel Barrymore, Lew 
Ayres; released 4-14. MGM 

Dark Victory — Play by Brewer, Jr., and 
Bloch; Bette Davis, George Brent: rev. 

Spec. 3-18; released 4-26. Warner 

Dodge City — Technicolor; Santa Fe R.R.; 

Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn. Warner 

Family Next Door — -Hugh Herbert, Ruth 

Donnelly. Univ. 

Hardy’s Ride High — Rev. Spec. 4-29. MGM 

Romance of the Redwoods — Story by 
London; Jean Parker, Charles Bick- 
ford. Col. 

Story of Vernon and Irene Castle — Fred 
Astaire, Ginger Rogers ; rev. Spec. 4-15; 
released 4-28. RKO 

Streets of New York — Jackie Cooper. Mono. 

Three Smart Girls Grow Up — Deanna 

Durbin; rev. Spec. 4-1. Univ. 

Wuthering Heights- — Novel by Emily 

Bronte: rev. Spec. 4-1 U.A. 

COMING FILMS 

Boys’ Reformatory — Frankie Darro. Mono. 

Bridal Suite — Formerly Maiden Voyage: 

Robert Montgomery; released 5-26. MGM 

Captain Fury — Australia, 1840; Brian 

Aherne, Paul Lukas. U.A. 

Confessions of a Nazy Spy — Released 

5- 6. Warner 

Each Dawn I Die — Novel by Jerome 

Odium : James Cagney, Ann Sheri- 
dan; released late summer. Warner 

Federal Offense- — Based on Persons in 
Hiding, by J. Edgar Hoover; Ellen 
Drew, Lloyd Nolan. Para. 

Gantry the Great — Blind Wonder Horse; 

June release tentative. Warner 

Goodbye, Mr. Chips — Novel by Hilton : 

Robert Donat. Greer Garson; released 

6- 2. MGM 

Grade Allen Murder Case — Comedy; 

based on story by S. S. Van Dine. Para. 
Heritage of the Desert — Novel by Zane 
Grey; Evelyn Venable, Donald Woods; 
released 6-23. Para. 

It's a Wonderful World — Comedy; James 

Stewart, Claudette Colbert. MGM 


PAGE EIGHTEEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Juarez — Paul Muni, Bette Davis; autumn 

release. Warner 

Jones Family In Hollywood — Released 

6-2. 20th-Fox 

Maiden Voyage — Robert Montgomery; 

released April. MGM 

Only Angels Have Wings — Formerly 
Plane No. 4 : Cary Grant, Jean Ar- 
thur, Richard Barthelmess, Lionel 
Stander; released 5-15. Col. 

Rose of Washington Square — Musical; 

Alice Faye. A1 Jolson; released 5-12. 20th-Fox 
Sorority House — Anne Shirley; released 

5-12. RKO 

Stanley and Livingstone — Spencer 

Tracy; released 9-2. 20th-Fox 

Susannah of the Mounties — Juvenile by 
Muriel Denison: Shirley Temple; re- 
leased 7-28. 20th-Fox 

Tell No Tales — Formerly Hundred to 
One: newspaper story; Melvyn Doug- 
las. MGM 

The Dove — Play by Willard Mack; Leo 

Carrillo, Steffi Duna. RKO 

Torchy Runs for Mayor — Glenda Farrell, 

Barton McLane; released 5-13; rev. 

Spec. 4-1. Warner 

Union Pacific — Barbara Stanwyck, Joel 
McCrea ; released 5-5. Para. 

Wolf Call — Story by London; Movita. 

John Carroll. Mono. 

Young Mr. Lincoln — Henry Fonda; re- 
leased 6-9. 20th-Fox 

Zenobia — Formerly Spring Again: based 
on Zenobia’ s Infidelity : S. S. by H. 

C. Bunner (in Short Sixes) . U.A. 

IN PRODUCTION 

Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever — Andy 

turns playwright; school play. MGM 

Beau Geste — Novel by Wren; Gary Cooper. Para. 
Briton at Yale — Comedy; Richard 

Greene. 20th-Fox 

Career — Play by Stong and Erskine; 

Anne Shirley, Edward Ellis. RKO 

Cat and the Canary — Play by John Wil- 
lard: Paulette Goddard, Bob Hope. Para. 

Disputed Passage — Novel by Lloyd Doug- 
las; Dorothy Lamour. Akim Tamiroff; 
autumn release. Para. 

Dust Be My Destiny— Novel by Jerome 

Odium; John Garfield, Pat O'Brien. Warner 
Enemy Agent — -Based on play Three 
Faces East: Leon C. Turrou, Margaret 
Lindsay. Warner 

Family Reunion — Formerly American 
Family ; based on play Fly Away 
Home, by Dorothy Bennett; Priscilla 
Lane, John Garfield. Warner 

Geronimo — Apaches in Southwest; Pres- 
ton Foster, Ellen Drew. Para. 

Gone With the Wind — Novel by Mar- 
garet Mitchell: Leslie Howard. Vivien 
Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havil- 
land. MGM 

Good Girls Go to Paris, Too — Melvyn 
Douglas, Joan Blondell, Walter Con- 
nolly; old-time and modern dancing 
featured. Col. 

Hobby Family — Assorted hobbies; Irene 

Rich. Henry O’Neill. Warner 

Home Work — Charles Ruggles. Mary Bo- 
land. Para. 

Music School — Jascha Heifetz. U.A. 

Little Mother — Play by Felix Jackson; 

Ginger Rogers. RKO 

Man in the Iron Mask — Louis Hayward. 

Joan Bennett, Doris Kenyon as Queen 
Anne. U.A. 

Memory of Love — Novel by Bessie Breuer; 

Douglas Fairbanks. Jr. RKO 


Mr. Smith Goes to V - -Con- 
tinues adventures of ?-.s, Jean 

Arthur, James Stewa ide Rains. 

Guy Kibbee, Eugene . .eti . Col. 

On Borrowed Time — Novel by Edward 
Lawrence Katkin : Frank Morgan: Sir 
Cedric Hardwicke. MGM 

Our Leading Citizen — Bob Burns, Susan 

Hayward. Para. 

Red Cross Nurse. 20th-Fox 

Ruler of the Seas — Epic of sail vs. steam. Para. 

Second Fiddle — Formerly When Winter 
Comes: based on Heart Interest: play 
by George Bradshaw: songs by Irving 
Berlin; Sonja Henie. Rudy Vallee, Don 
Ameche; released 6-27. 20th-Fox 

Star-Maker — Semi-biography of Gus Ed- 
wards; released 8-25 (tent.). Para. 

The Old Maid — Novel by Edith Whar- 
ton; play by Zoe Akins; Bette Davis. 

Miriam Hopkins. George Brent. Warner 

The Sun Never Sets — Backgrounds filmed 
in London and Far East; Basil Rath- 
bone, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. L ; niv. 

The Wizard of Oz — Juvenile by Frank 
Baum; Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney; 

August release. MGM 

The Women — Play by Clare Booth; Nor- 
ma Shearer, Joan Crawford. Rosalind 
Russell. MGM 

What a Life — Play by Clifford Gold- 
smith; high school age: Jackie Coop- 
er, Betty Field, John Howard. Para. 

Winter Carnival — Sports; Ann Sheridan. 

Richard Carlson. U.A. 

FUTURE FILMS 

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Play by Robert 

Sherwood; Raymond Massey. RKO 

American Way — Play by Kaufman and 

Moss. RKO 

American School Teacher — Bob Burns; 

production to start in June. RKO 

Babes In Arms — Musical play by Rodgers 
and Hart; Judy Garland. Mickey 
Rooney. MGM 

Chicken Wagon Family — Novel by Barry 

Benefield; production begins 5-2. 20th-Fox 

Coast Guard — Ralph Bellamy. Randolph 

Scott: production begins May. Col. 

Desert Storm — Desert filling station ; 
Humphrey Bogart. Margaret Lindsay; 
production begins May. Warner 

Diary of Santa Fe — Based on records of 
Capt. D. S. Stanley, 1853; Errol 
Flynn, Olivia de Havilland. Warner 

Father Damien — Priesi of Hawaiian leper 
colony: a character is R. L. Steven- 
son. 

Hollywood Cavalcade — Alice Faye; pro- 
duction begins 5-15. 20th-Fox 

Housekeeper’s Daughter — Novel by Don- 
ald Henderson Clark: production starts 
about 5-15. U.A. 

Intermezzo — Original screen play; pro- 
duction begins June. U.A. 

Knight and the Lady — Elizabethan: Bette 
Davis, Errol Flynn: production begins 
5-15. Warner 

Moon and Sixpence — Novel by W. S. 

Maugham; Edward G. Robinson. Warner 

My Fifth Avenue Girl — Redbook serial 

by Frank Adams; Ginger Rogers. RKO 

Old Grad — Anita Louise, Charley Grape- 

win. Univ. 

Real Glory — Philippines: Gary Cooper. 

Andrea Leeds. David Niven. U.A. 

Rebecca — Novel by Daphne Du Maurier: 

production begins June. U.A. 

Stronger Than Desire — Novel by W. E. 
Woodward: Robert Montgomery. Vir- 
ginia Bruce MGM 


The Rains Came — N;.c! . ,• Bromfield; 

Ronald Colman, H. B. Warner, Myrna 
Loy, Maria Ouspenskaya, George Brent, 
Tyrone Power; released 10-28. 20th-Fox 


JONATHAN ASKS FOR REHEARSAL 

(Continued from page 12) 
scene a look of the same disorder. 

Too much rehearsing is bad. Every- 
body agrees on that. But when you get 
a tough scene that takes a lot of work- 
ing out, it is much worse to do it just 
before you shoot it than it would be to 
do it the day before. People get stale 
after an hour of the same three or four 
pages and it is an added difficulty to 
know you have to pull one out of a hat 
that is long since empty. 

These are things I’d like to see you 
take up because I am sure they would 
result in better pictures. Of course, it 
is all from the actor’s point of view, 
but, after all, actors have a part in 
making pictures. — JONATHAN. 


FORMAT PLEASES READERS 

(Continued from page 17) 

Lewis Milestone — Well, after all these years! 
Good work! 

Erich Wolfgang Korngold — I am happy to see 
the Spectator further progressing. 

Robert Lord — Congratulations to the new 
Spectator. 

Frank Lloyd — When better ideas are thought 
of, you'll do the thinking. 

Richard Wallace — Streamlined and right up- 
to-date. A great improvement. 

Mortimer Snerd, Universal star — -The new 
Spectator looks good to me — but where are 
the pictures? 

Sidney Toler — The Spectator mirrors the sa- 
gacity of a wise father. Regards. 

Tim Holt — I like the enlarged Spectator very 
much. The fine paper makes it easier to 
read and the increased space makes it able 
to add to its interesting contents. I never 
miss it. 

John Howard — I'm boosting for the Spectator 
more than ever. 


★ "A very big dollar’s worth. I hope 
your picture people will adopt it as their 
guide in making their pictures, which 
now are talking far too much.” — Wal- 
ter G. Smith, Omaha, Nebraska. A 
Plea and A Play, by Welford Beaton; 
price one dollar. Hollywood Spectator, 
6513 Hollywood Boulevard, Holly- 
wood. 


Mimeographing 

Multigraphing 

JEANNE EDWARDS 

1655 North Cherokee 
(at Hollywood Blvd.) 
GRanite 0330 


APRIL 29, 1939 


PAGE NINETEEN 


GARSON KANIN 

DIRECTOR 

RKO- Radio 

♦ 


JOHN BRAHM 

DIRECTOR 

Columbia Pictures 


SPECTATOR 


Every Other Week 


Edited by WELFORD BEATON 


Fourteenth Year 


Los Angeles, California — July 22, 1939 


Vol. 14— No. 8 


Writing Film Stories To Fit 
Players Not Good Box-Office 

Moral Re- Armament Movement 
Theme for Great Screen Epic 

Bruno Ussher’s Estimate of 
Sam Goldwyn’s Heifetz Picture 




REVIEWED: 
(See Page 5) 


They Shall Have Music k Unexpected Father k Career 

Million Dollar Legs k I Stole a Million k Should Husbands Work? 
The Magnificent Fraud ★ News Is Made At Night ★ The Movies March On 
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever k Blondie Takes a Vacation 




~/7lu?n. the 

EDITOR'S 


EASY CHAIR 


PICTURES AND THEIR AUDIENCE 
DECOMMENDED for reading is the June-July num- 
1 her of Cinema Progress, edited by Boris Mor- 
kovin, the capable head of the cinema department of 
LI niversity of Southern California. The typographic- 
ally attractive 36-page publication is full of the kind 
of material which would make profitable reading for 
all those engaged in the creative branches of picture- 
making. In the list of those whose opinions are ex- 
pressed are such practical screen names as King 
Vidor, William Wellman, Mitchell Leisen, Leigh Jason, 
Henry King, S. Sylvan Simon, Milton Sperling, John 
Brahm. Thoughtful and valuable articles are contrib- 
uted by other experts in various phases of film pro- 
duction. 


Of course, some of the opinions expressed are open 
to challenge. For instance, let me quote Leigh Jason: 
"Critics are unfair when they judge all pictures by the 
standards they set up for an artistic picture. There 
are at least three widely differing, but overlapping 
types of audiences; the intelligent audience which en- 
joys the best artistic pictures; the middle class audi- 
ence which wants light entertainment; the less intelli- 
gent audience which enjoys only western and action 
pictures." 


Cause of Box-Office Worries 

Jason here classifies the kind of pictures the public 
is being offered now, and unconsciously puts his finger 
on the weak spot in Hollywood's production methods, 
the weakness responsible for box-office conditions 
which are causing producers so much concern. When 
pictures were silent there was but one audience, the 
public as a whole. Lack of knowledge of the funda- 
mental appeal of their medium was not a serious 
matter then, as mechanical limitations made it neces- 
sary for screen stories to be told in pictorial language, 
the most primitive form of expression, one which left 
its interpretation to the imagination, not to the in- 
tellect, of its audience. Thus the story had the same 
appeal to all those who saw it on the screen in that it 
appealed to one hundred per cent of the imaginative 
power of each beholder. The scholar and the moron 
did not get the same story, but each got the one his 
imagination was capable of fashioning. Thus silent 
pictures had but one audience. 

Producers will tell you that prior to the advent of 
sound the public was getting tired of silent pictures, 
a fact established by dwindling box-office receipts. 


The public was not tiring of silents as such; it was tir- 
ing of the kind it v/as getting. Because you tire of 
eating corn beef and cabbage every day, you can not 
be accused of becoming tired of eating. 

Embarked On a New Business 

When the screen began to talk, the motion picture 
industry went into an entirely new business, a fact of 
which it still is unconscious. Instead of sticking to the 
business which created it, it changed the nature of its 
product as completely as would be the case if a dealer 
in women's hats switched to men's shoes, expecting 
still to hold his old customers. 

It had been offering entertainment which appealed 
to the imagination, and it switched to a line which 
appeals to the intellect. It divided its audience into 
the three parts set forth by Jason. For the soothing 
silence of its legitimate product it substituted dia- 
logue which its players shout into the ears of the audi- 
ence. For the quiet music of the old days it substitut- 
ed scores which at times step to the front and stun us 
with the volume of their sound. And box-office re- 
ceipts continue to shrink. And producers who regard 
themselves as supermen, incapable of being wrong, 
plead the difficulty of making pictures, each of which 
will appeal to three different kinds of audience. 

It is six or seven years ago since the Spectator first 
predicted the exact conditions which exist now. If the 
Spectator could see it that long ago, why, in heaven's 
name, can not the film moguls with the overstuffed 
salaries see it now? 

* * * 

TIME TO THINK ABOUT SHIRLEY 
THAT Shirley Temple's appeal is more to adults than 
* to children lonq has been the Spectator's conten- 
tion. The trend of the New York criticisms of her 
latest picture is along the same lines. Yet her studio 
never has even hinted at its realization of that im- 
portant fact. It persists in presenting her as a child 
to entertain children. Perhaps the lack of satisfactory 
box-office response to her current vehicle will prompt 
her studio to do some serious thinking. At least let 
us hope so. A suggestion of the kind of thinking re- 
sponsible for the weakness of Shirley's box - office 
standing is given in Louella Parson's newspaper 
column: "Darryl Zanuck certainly has a big problem 
in finding stories for the golden Temple child that 
appeal to the children and at the same time are adult 
entertainment." If Louella has Darryl right, he is 


SPECTATOR, published bi-weekly at Los Angeles. Calif., by Hollywood Spe tator Go.. 0013 Hollywood Blvd. ; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price. $5 the year; two 
years, $8: foreign, $6. Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter. September 23. 1938. at the Post Office at Los Angeles. Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3. 1879. 


PAGE TWO 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


thinking in terms of his star and not in terms of her 
stories. He was thinking that way when he presented 
her, three or four pictures ago as a blackface hoofer, 
a box-office blow from which he has not covered. 

The only consideration that should be given Shirley 
when a story is being prepared for her is that she is 
ten years old, consequently a girl of about that age 
must be the person around whom the story revolves. 
The writers then should forget Shirley and concen- 
trate on the girl in the story. If the girl part is develop- 
ed logically, Shirley may be relied upon to do bril- 
liantly on the screen everything the girl does in the 
script. And no matter what it is, it will entertain 
children. Each little girl in an audience sees herself 
in Shirley, and that is quite enough in itself to keep 
her interested in what the little actress does in the 
picture; and, unless it be carried to an absurd extent 
the more grown-up Shirley appears on the screen, the 
more grown-up will the girl in the audience feel, there- 
fore writing Shirley's stories for adults is the surest 
way to make them entertaining for children. 

* * * 

YOUTH TO THE RESCUE 

OLLYWOOD was host this week to a group of peo- 
ple who are espousing a doctrine all the world 
some day will embrace. Moral Re-armament, the apt 
name given it, has among its deciples millions of peo- 
ple who have never heard of it, and millions of others 
who merely have heard of it and know little about it as 
a concrete movement. I belong in this second class. 
All I know about it is that its aim is to make the world 
a more decent place in which to live, and I am whole- 
heartedly for that. My impression is that the sponsors 
of the movement have given up hope of us old fellows 
ever acquiring enough sense to run things properly, 
and are arousing the youth of the world to a con- 
sciousness of the responsibility that will be theirs. 

Certainly the elder statesmen are making a horrible 
mess of the world. Of that we are reminded every 
morning by the headlines in our newspapers. I am 
writing this on a Sunday morning, and a moment ago 
I paused to hail a neighbor and ask him if he could in- 
duce his dog to cease its practice of scraping holes 
under our back fence and not only coming in through 
them, but providing our dogs with a hitherto unsus- 
pected method of escaping from their established 
boundaries and roaming the neighborhood. If I had 
taken a tip from fhe morning headlines, I would have 
known that my plan to abate the nuisance should have 
been for me to shoot my neighbor, and his would 
have been to fire the first shot if I were not too quick 
for him. Buf we laughed over the matter, and from 
where I sit now I can see him nailing some wire netting 
to the bottom of the fence, his dog on his side and my 
dogs on mine being interested onlookers. 

Movement a Civilizing Instrument 

q I can see no fundamental difference between this 
fence incident and the international incidents which 
now are prompting nations to snarl at one another. 


Each of the latter is susceptible to the same friendly 
settlement if it be approached with a laugh instead of 
with a gun. But guns will prevail until the nations be- 
come civilized. The Moral Re-armament movement 
can become the civilizing instrument. The sentiment 
of the world is on its side. Its aim is to crystalize the 
sentiment into a potent and irresistible force — a 
world-wide movement to make the world a better 
place to live in. 

Surely there is inspiration there for a greaf motion 
picture — a theme the world would applaud — not a 
war theme or a plea for universal peace; just some 
homely, human story about ordinary people and their 
desire to live in a tranquil world, a picture which 
would condemn war by implication, expose strife as 
the senseless and unnessary thing it is, and demon- 
strate that as the world thinks, the world will be. 

* * * 

FAILS AS ESCAPIST MEDIUM 

HE front page of the morning paper, of course, was 
filled with war talk, which left room for only one 
column of political strife and the choicest murder of 
the day. Turning the page I caught some headings: 
"Children See Father Killed by Zoo Bear," and "Three 
Sisters, Arms Locked, Drown in Boat Mishap," "Mur- 
derer of Wife and Son in Wild Outburst." For relief 
I turned to the amusement page and my eyes met: 
"They took the bars off Alcatraz to film it! — 'They 
All Come Out' — See sensational actual scenes of 
what really goes on in the great federal prisons!" 
I put the paper down, went oustide, and while I work- 
ed among the flowers I wondered if, after all, the 
screen really is an escapist medium. 

* * * 

AND WHAT OF HAM-AN'-EGGS? 

HEN N ovember 7 comes along the eyes of the 
nation will turn in the direction of California. On 
that day the state will decide if it is to make a most 
revolutionary experiment, whether it can pay thirty 
dollars each week to each of its elderly citizens with- 
out making things worse than they are now. Two 
classes of voters will support the measure: those who 
believe sincerely the pension plan will work, and those 
who feel something should be done to improve pres- 
ent conditions and are willing to make the experiment 
provided for in the initiative measure. Opposed to 
it will be two classes: those who believe sincerely it 
will not work, and those who are afraid it will disturb 
conditions which they now find advantageous to their 
selfish interests. 

Neither the proponents of the plan nor its oppon- 
ents know if it will work. Those opposed to it reflect 
the frame of mind of the citizens of the past century 
who were convinced trains running on rails would not 
be successful, who laughed at the idea of electricity, 
at Bell's dream of talking over a wire. And now we 
have radio and television, each more unbelievable 
than the thought that there must be some manner in 
which old people can be given financial contentment. 




JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE THREE 


It will be difficult to make any thoughtful voter be- 
lieve there is no remedy for existing conditions. The 
most earnest opponents of the pension plan will be 
those responsible for the conditions which made some 
plan necessary. The same sun, rain and earth respon- 
sible for previous periods of prosperity are still 
standing by, still functioning. Man is the weak spot 
in the scheme of things. Some believe that in the 
pension plan they have a way out. If those who think 
differently have hopes of converting the public to 
their belief, they should make their arguments con- 
vincing by presenting an alternate plan which will 
achieve the results aimed at by the Ham-and-Eggers. 

* * * 

CRITICS AND THEIR CRAFT 

IGHT years ago there appeared a 400-page book 
still read by those who take an intelligent interest in 
the reviews of literary works and the manner in which 
critics approach their discussions of music, stage, 
screen and the allied arts — "The Craft of the Critic," 
written by S. Stephenson Smith. Last evening, in 
reading again his estimate of screen criticism, I noted 
again how accurately Smith had sized up the situation 
as it existed a decade ago. I quote him, and leave it 
to you to decide for yourself if there has been any 
change since the book was written: 

"The cinema originated as a study of the motions 
of a racehorse in action. Only a half-dozen of the 
directors have remembered this. The essential thing 
in the motion picture is movement. And the news- 
paper and magazine critics rarely recall this elemen- 
tary fact. Look at those curious and venal advertis- 
ing media, the movie magazines. Is there any study 
of the pictures as artistic sequences of motion? An- 
ecdotal tidbits about the stars, details of directors' 
lives and manners, Hollywood scandals, the pirating of 
plots, craft details on the making of scenarios, camera 
technique, exclamations over the wonders of archae- 
ology in some new historical romance, personal inter- 
views with the stars, and endless stills well up to the 
level of billboard art and boulevard postcards: in 
short, a farrago of rubbish, so far as any intelligible 
criticism is concerned. The Hollywood Spectator is 
the one exception." 

* * * 

TO STIMULATE FILM BOX-OFFICES 

HEN stories are being prepared in studios, too 
much thought is given the stars and supporting 
players who are to appear in them, a practice re- 
sponsible for the complaint of the public that there 
is too much sameness in the pictures offered it. When 
a star makes a hit in a certain characterization, his 
or her studio promptly looks for a follow-up story with 
a similar character in it. When an artist sets about 
the creation of what he hopes will be his masterpiece, 
he does not think solely in terms of his colors. His 
thoughts are on the creation as a whole, and it is the 
creation which dictates the colors to be used. If 
screen writers were permitted to think only in terms 


of their stories, and if producers fitted their players 
into the stories instead of having the stories fashioned 
for their players, film theatre box-offices would be 
given at least a measure of the stimulation they so 
badly need. 

* * * 

MENTAL MEANDERINGS 

f)\JR d irt road passes a corner marked by a high 
v cypress hedge in which there are two gates pro- 
viding passers-by with views of a comfortable home 
in a setting of well trimmed trees, attractive shrub- 
bery and a gorgeous display of flowers. Across spa- 
cious lawns a couple of dogs chase one another, and 
along well kept paths one sees at times a colored 
maid pushing a perambulator in which sits a baby 
whose eyes gravely or gaily, according to her chang- 
ing moods, surveys the world around her. Never far- 
ther than a dozen feet from the baby is a handsome 
German shepherd dog. And in such a setting and 
under such conditions there dwells a man who not so 
long ago had a number near the top of the Public 
Enemy list. A policeman friend of mine told me he 
had paid his debt to society and is now going straight. 
That made him interesting: the crimes he had commit- 
ted took nerve and daring, marked him as a man worth 
studying, a human museum piece against a rural back- 
ground. I took dvantage of an opportunity to make 
his acquaintance. That was about a year ago. He is 
out in my garden now, planting a few dozen zinnia 
plants, rare varieties he grew from seed. His greatest 
pride — excepting the baby, of course — is his rose 
garden. . . . What I thought was a flock of gophers 
played havoc with a bed of asters. I got a trap, set 
it, then hoped it would catch nothing, as I hate touch- 
ing dead things. Aramantha, an old cat which ambles 
across our yard and spends hours with me, studied 
me and the trap, but for a week nothing happened. 
Then one morning I came upon Aramantha feasting 
on a gopher. The trap was still set. No sign of a 
gopher since. If I knew who owns Aramantha, I would 
trade the trap for her. . . . And now, without waiting 
to ask her permission, I will let a Seattle reader do the 
rest of today's Meandering. The opening paragraph 
of a letter from Maurine Coman, a Spectator sub- 
scriber who lives in the Puget Sound city, is too good 
to keep to myself: "The significance of your Mental 
Meanderings in the Spectator of June tenth is like a 
delicate perfume borne on a gentle breeze. Now if 
only the world might grasp the beautiful similitude of 
your neighborhood exchange and your flower children 
in the neighbors' gardens, and would love the neigh- 
bors' gardens for the sake of their own fair children 
blooming there, what a world this would be! What a 
neighborhood of nations, and what possible use could 
one find for war in universal gardens redolent with 
the perfume of love and righteousness? Ah, Mr. 
Spectator, it is a Utopian dream you have, and I, 
too, am only a dreamer. Of what use are dreams?" 



PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


What iate OheJ £wk £ike 


Heifetz Casts 

a Musical Spell 

THEY SHALL HAVE MUSIC 
Samuel Goldwyn-U. A. 

Producer Samuel Goldwyn 

Associate producer Robert Riskin 

Director Archie Mayo 

Screen play: Irmgard Von Cube, John Howard 
Lawson. 

Photography Gregg Toland 

Musical director Alfred Newman 

Film editor Sherman Todd 

Cast: Jascha Heifetz, Andrea Leeds, Joel Mc- 
Crea, Gene Reynolds, Walter Brennan, Porter 
Hall, Terry Kilburn, Walter Tetley, Chuck 
Stubbs, Tommy Kelly, Jacqueline Nash, Al- 
fred Newman, Mary Ruth, John St. Polis, Alex- 
ander Schonberg, Marjorie Main, Arthur Hohl, 
Paul Harvey, "Zero," Peter Meremblum Cali- 
fornia Junior Symphony. Running time, 120 
minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
DELIGHTFUL picture. They Shall 
Have Music is one of the few films 
that give the spectator something to 
carry away from the theatre with him, 
a raising of the spirit. What one takes 
from the picture, of course, will be de- 
pendent on what he brings to it, espe- 
cially with respect to musical apprecia- 
tion, and yet, produced with astute 
showmanship, the picture has some- 
thing for everyone. 

The presentation should do excep- 
tionally well at the box-office because 
it will bring into motion picture houses, 
to see and hear the great Jascha Heifetz, 
sections of the public that rarely visit 
film houses. At the same time, the pic- 
ture affords a finely human, touching 
story which will absorb those with no 
pronounced ear for better music. 

More important than the box-office 
returns of this single picture, however, 
is the fact that, by its presentation of 
high artistic values, it will further in- 
crease the appreciation of finer filmic 
elements, helping to pave the way for 
pictures of wider and more enduring 
appeal. 

Presents Musical Feast 

<1 Heifetz, starred in the Goldwyn pro- 
duction, dominates the picture largely 
through his playing, being heard in a 
generous number of selections. What 
he gives us is a feast of music seldom 
equaled on the screen. His numbers 
range from the highly technical Rondo 
Capnccioso of Saint Saens to the simple 
and tender little Estrellita. 

It is probable that Dr. Bruno Ussher 
will have a great deal to say on the 
technical merits of the renditions, so I 
shall not impose my far less discerning 
reactions, except to say that, to me, they 
were superb. What will most impress 
the layman is the spirit and poignancy 


of his playing. Those few of the music 
world who have been prone to consider 
Heifetz’s playing at times deficient in 
emotional stimulus — though likely a 
misinterpretation — manifestly can have 
no criticism on that score here. The 
music is rich in feeling, and doubtless 
gains in that respect through associa- 
tions with the story. Stretches of the 
background music evidently are played 
by the violinist himself. 

Recording, under the supervision of 
Paul Neal, is of exceptional quality. On 
occasion it seemed to me that the repro- 
duction was too loud, especially in forte 
passages in the upper register, but this 
detraction in all likelihood was due to 
the sound control at the Warners' Bev- 
erly theatre, the brethren’s local film 
houses seemingly having a penchant for 
excess of this kind. 

He Sticks to His Music 

*1 Sam Goldwyn has shown wisdom in 
depending on the violinist’s musical per- 
formances to impress his personality on 
audiences, rather than featuring him 
prominently in the dramatic portions 
of the play. Heifetz is seen in only two 
brief dialogue sequences. Apparently 
painstakingly coached by Director Ar- 
chie Mayo, he is natural and easy. Thus 
our respect for the musician is unim- 
paired by any inept exhibitions in an 
alien art, which has not always been 
the case in other appearances of musical 
celebrities. 

Shrewdness is shown too in the ad- 
mixture of fictional and musical ele- 
ments. The screen play by Irmgard 
Von Cube and John Howard Lawson 
is full of human touches and spiced 
with just a dash of hokum — the inci- 
dent where the menace is subtly jabbed 
in the posterior by the hat pin of an 
aroused housewife, is capital — and yet 
the story is never mundane or trivial; 
it is founded on aspirations and splen- 
did ideals, and definitely centers about 
music, dealing with the efforts of a mu- 
sic school, where poor children may 
study without charge, to keep open its 
doors and save its instruments from 
creditors, following the death of its 
patron. 

Child Musicians Featured 

<1 At this point it should be interjected 
that the musical program of this very 
musical film is by no means contributed 
solely by Heifetz. Seen and heard, as 
music pupils of the impecunious school, 
are members of an admirable organiza- 
tion of child musicians, our own Cali- 
fornia Junior Symphony Orchestra, fos- 
tered and trained by Peter Meremblum. 
It is said that Heifetz refused to believe 
the players were children when he first 
heard a recording of their work. At the 


conclusion of the picture the violinist 
does a Mendelssohn concerto to the 
accompaniment of the Meremblum or- 
chestra. The seasoned Alfred Newman 
is at the baton throughout the picture. 

Then there is little Jacqueline Nash, 
heard in two vocal selections, displaying 
a voice of extraordinary range and tim- 
bre for one so young. Deserving a lau- 
rel too, is tiny Mary Ruth, whose fin- 
gers move along the keyboard as though 
directed by a force far older than she — - 
and possibly they are. The Chopin 
Minute Waltz may hold snares for 
such small fingers, but a slight muffing 
or two does not render the performance 
less than notable. 

Thespians Are First-rate 

•I This seems an unbefitting time to be 
coming to the thespians, for the acting 
performances contribute a large part of 
the film’s effectiveness. Outstanding in 
the cast is young Gene Reynolds, as a 
waif who finds a haven and the recog- 
nition and training of a latent musical 
gift at the school. The boy has some 
scenes with an impressive spiritual qual- 
ity, and others of considerable dramatic 
force. 

That young-old man, Walter Bren- 
nan, again comes through with an ex- 
cellent characterization, playing the el- 
derly founder and director of the insti- 
tution, so absorbed in music he is un- 
aware of the school’s financial straits. 
Andrea Leeds is quietly effective as his 
daughter, and Joel McCrea is at his best 
as her suitor. Young Terry Kilburn, 
Porter Hall, and Marjorie Main are 
among others doing good work in a 
cast too lengthly for individual mention. 

Archie Mayo in his direction has 
fully realized the human values in the 
script, bringing forth earnest and vivid 
work from the players. 

Heifetz Technique Revealed 

<][ Production, needless to say, is of the 
high Goldwyn level. Gregg Toland’s 
photography, especially in capturing the 
Heifetz technique through close-up shots 
from various angles, is commendable, 
and art direction by James Basevi is a 
meritorious contribution. Editing must 
have presented many problems, particu- 
larly in the musical sequences, but Sher- 
man Todd has met them skilfully. 

The only faulty bit of continuity, 
due probably to the screen play, though 
editing might have helped it, unfortun- 
ately mars the conclusion of the pic- 
ture. Miss Leeds is shown embracing 
her father in an endeavor to console 
him at seeing the instruments taken 
away in the midst of the big school 
concert, while the next shot shows 
Heifetz alighting from his automobile 
in front. Then he is heard playing off 



JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE FIVE 


scene, while Miss Leeds is still embrac- 
ing her father. For the musician to 
have come in and made preparations to 
play would have taken at least four or 
five minutes, and a father-daughter em- 
brace would not have lasted that long. 
A retake, if necessary, would be a good 
investment. 

A praiseworthy contribution to the 
raising of artistic values in motion pic- 
tures, and a musical feast such as sel- 
dom is to be seen in film houses. The 
thousands of music students throughout 
the country will find valuable instruc- 
tion in being able to study the technique 
of the master violinist. Jascha Heifetz, 
at close range. Performances by younger 
musicians in the picture, including a 
children's symphony orchestra, should 
inspire other talented youngsters. Stu- 
dents of cinematography can observe a 
clever admixture of musical and fictional 
elements, especially as related to the 
need of providing sufficient dramatic 
values for that portion of the public 
with uncultivated musical tastes. The 
extensive possibilities for library book 
and film cooperation are patent. 


Adopts Technique 
of Stong 's Novel 

CAREER. RKO 


Producer 

Production executive 

Director 

Screen play 

Adaptation 

From the novel by 

Musical director 

Photographer 

Special effects 

Recording 

Editor 


Robert Sisk 
Lee Marcus 
Leigh Jason 
Dalton Trumbo 
Bert Granet 
Phil Stong 
Russell Bennett 
Frank Redman, ASC 
Vernon L. Walker, ASC 
John L. Cass 
Arthur E. Roberts 


Cast: Anne Shirley, Edward Ellis, Samuel S. 
Hinds, Janet Beecher, Leon Errol, Alice Eden, 
John Archer, Raymond Hatton, Maurice Mur- 
phy, Harrison Greene, Charles Drake, Hobart 
Cavanaugh. Running time, 62 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
1 THERE is some good stuff in Career. 
I There was good stuff in the Phil 
Stong novel, which pictured a cross sec- 
tion of Iowan small town life, center- 
ing about a young man who comes to 
know, as had his father, that "there are 
two women in every man’s life, the one 
he lost and the one he thanks God he 
got." 

Structurally the picture adheres close- 
ly to the plotting of the book, adapta- 
tion being by Bert Granet, the screen 
play itself by Dalton Trumbo. Why 
the middle man, is a matter in which 
your guess is as good as mine. Be that 
as it may, the film embodies the tech- 
nique of the novel to a greater extent 
than is commonly to be seen in motion 
pictures. 


Greater Selection Required 

Most of the picture’s shortcomings, 
as I see it, come from this treatment of 


the story material. Hergesheimer has 
dubbed the novel the "grab bag” of lit- 
erature. Certainly there are no exacting 
principles of structure or content behind 
the form: some of the best have been 
part essay or what have you. Now, 
though one is getting on thin ice when 
he says dogmatically what may or may 
not go into either a stage play or a 
screen play, I think it can safely be 
affirmed, as a principle, that the better 
screen plays favor tbe structure charac- 
teristic of stage plays, with respect to 
emphasis, proportion and the like. 

The most irrelevant item in the pic- 
ture is the carrying on of two habitual 
drunkards. Their prolonged horseplay 
at a Fourth of July picnic, during which 
one falls off a high bridge, advanced the 
story in no way. The drunken epi- 
sodes, however, will cause many per- 
sons, especially parents, to view the 
film with disfavor, when they might 
otherwise have commended it. 

Denouement Is High Spot 

C] On the other hand, the thread of the 
story which gives the film most of its 
significance and emotional appeal could 
stand a good deal more elaboration — 
the conflict the young man experiences 
between his love for the girl and his 
desire to fulfill his ambition to be a 
great scientist, the fellow having an un- 
usual ability. 

The semi-tragic denouement is the 
high spot of the picture. There is a 
memorable quality to the scene where 
the young man, choked with emotion, 
sits on the banister of the front porch 
and looks off into the night, as he hears 
the train whistle which means the girl 
be loves is being taken out of his life, 
to become the bride of another. The 
father comes out just long enough to 
tell the boy about the two women in a 
man’s life, speaking from his own expe- 
tience, and then goes back in. 

Anne Shirley Impresses 

Other stretches of mature dialogue 
constitute the best feature of Trumbo’s 
screen play. A speech the boy’s father 
delivers before an irrate mob, come to 
his house bent on trouble, has eloquence 
and meaning, and Edward Ellis gives 
it impressively. 

Already having established herself as 
one of the screen’s outstanding emotion- 
al actresses, Anne Shirley should find 
further favor with audiences in her per- 
formance of the girl who comes to real- 
ize there is an insurmountable barrier 
between herself and the young man of 
her fancy — his living in a different men- 
tal world — a performance of delicacy 
and thoughtfulness. I would chide her 
gently for succumbing to the lure of 
the standardized long eyelashes, though 
they were evident, from what I could 
observe, only in the opening scene. 

As the young man John Archer has 
some scenes of considerable sincerity 


and depth. For an initial screen assign- 
ment, and a big one, it can be said that 
he does very well, albeit signs of inex- 
perience peep out here and there. His 
voice has uncommon resonance, but 
needs greater tonal variation. 

Supporting Players Competent 

t| Another contest winner, Alice Eden, 
had too brief a part to get a just esti- 
mate of her capability, though evidently 
she can stand considerable coaching. 
Janet Beecher, Samuel S. Hinds, Leon 
Errol and Raymond Hatton are well 
cast. 

Leigh Jason has given sensitive direc- 
tion to numerous scenes, is inclined to 
be heavy of touch at other times. 

Scenic and photographic elements en- 
hance the picture. The documentary 
shots, with vocal commentary, of the 
corn and sheep and other characteristics 
of Iowa, however, adds nothing to the 
story, which establishes its own back- 
ground satisfactorily. 

One with some ideas and moments 
of outstanding emotional poignancy, 
though the film is not in all respects 
top-notch fare. Family audiences espe- 
cially should like it, except for some 
prolonged and unnecessary episodes of 
drunkenness. 

Tamiroff Displays 

Technical Skill 

THE MAGNIFICENT FRAUD. Paramount 

Producer Harlan Thompson 

Director Robert Florey 

Screen play Gilbert Gabriel, Walter Ferris 
Original Charles G. Booth 

Photography William Mellor 

Film editor James Smith 

Music director Philip Boutelje 

Cast: Akim Tamiroff, Lloyd Nolan, Mary Bo- 
land, Patricia Morison, Ralph Forbes, Steffi 
Duna, Ernest Cossart, George Zucco, Robert 
Warwick, Frank Reicher, Robert Middlemass, 
Abner Biberman, Donald Gallaher. Running 
time, 75 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

£ NDEAVORING to disentangle the 
intricate entwining of good and bad 
elements of a production like The Mag- 
nificent Fraud, weigh them in the bal- 
ance, and arrive at a fair estimate of the 
picture’s total worth, is one of the 
things that occasions the critic silver 
threads among the gold. 

The personal equation will play a 
good part in the spectator’s reception of 
this film. If very romantic in outlook, 
he may be intrigued by the unusual 
turn of events: if dominantly a realist, 
he will find considerable to criticize. 
About an extremely gifted actor who, 
with crape hair, paint, and putty, re- 
places the president of a mythical South 
American republic when the man is as- 
sassinated by a bomb explosion, the de- 
ceit being engineered by other political 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


figures, since a loan of some millions of 
dollars from American financiers is in 
the offing, the piece probably will place 
a heavy strain on the sense of credibil- 
ity of most persons. 

Nothing Wrong With Hokum 

<J “But don’t you think a certain 
amount of hokum is a good thing in 
motion pictures? Limiting story mate- 
rial to the wholly plausible would make 
tor unoriginality and dryness, would it 
not?” wondered the charming young 
person who honored me with her com- 
pany on my trek to the Village. 

“Hokum is great stuff,” I opined, 
“ — if you can get away with it.” 

Molnar’s The Guardsman presented 
a similar situation, in which an actor 
masquerades as a dashing Russian to 
test his wife’s fidelity, and no one criti- 
cized the play on the score of plausibil- 
ity. The figures prancing in the clock at 
the conclusion of The Awful Truth 
was grand hokum. In my opinion, 
however, The Magnificent Fraud does 
not get away with it. Why it does not 
is a matter tied up with purpose and 
viewpoint in the story material. 

Portrayals Impressive 

^ The picture is made to serve as an 
out-and-out tour de force for Akim 
Tamiroff. Unquestionably his perform- 
ance as the presidential impersonator, 
together with two dramatic sketches in 
which he essays Cyrano de Bergerac and 
Napoleon, and poster portraits of King 
Lear and Henry VIII, definitely estab- 
lishes Tamiroff as a brilliant technician, 
perhaps the foremost on the screen. The 
make-ups, the gestures, the intonations, 
are done with master strokes. 

Observe, though, that I have specified 
“technician.” It is unfortunate that 
the actor’s greatest opportunity should 
come in a role which, by its very na- 
ture, precludes that personal give be- 
tween actor and audience, that flow of 
sympathy which is the core of theatre. 

Again, Genre Trouble 

Other performers have fared but lit- 
tle better in this respect. There is arti- 
fice clinging to the whole thing, grow- 
ing out of the screen play and, to some 
extent, the direction. 

It would seem that neither the screen 
play scriptists, Gilbert Gabriel and Wal- 
ter Ferris, nor Director Robert Florey 
bad too sure an idea as to just what 
they wanted to do with the material. 
What the original story was like, Cavi- 
are For His Excellency , by Charles G. 
Booth, I am unable to say. But it would 
be to the advantage of the screen mate- 
rial to have been couched definitely in a 
genre of melodrama, comedy, or drama. 

Stretches of the dialogue have a rath- 
er admirable succinctness, especially in 
early expository portions. And it must 
be conceded that the writers have resort- 
ed to considerable device to make the 
presidential masquerade seem plausible. 


Amorous scenes between Lloyd Nolan 
and Patricia Morison, on the other 
hand, are stilted and slushy. Too, story 
movement lags now and then. 

Paging Mister Hays 
CJ Nolan, good trouper, does every- 
thing he can with his role of a dashing 
and somewhat rascally American oppor- 
tunist who has inserted himself into 
local politics, though he is not ideal 
casting for the part — not to suggest 
that tbe role is any plum. Patricia Mor- 
ison has a striking comeliness, but 
plainly needs more experience. 

Mary Boland does effective trouping, 
though her performance ranges in key 
all the way from farce, at the beginning, 
to serious drama at the close. Miss Bo- 
land, by the by, is the only person, it 
develops, who was not taken in by the 
deceit, having enjoyed an amour with 
the president some years before and, to 
all appearances, having resumed it with 
his impersonator. Catch on? 

Another element of the risque is con- 
tributed by the dancing of Steffi Duna, 
an impassioned and wholly torrid ex- 
hibition, almost too much so for a 
warm night. Mister Hays must be 
slipping. And to think they censored 
Claudette Colbert’s cancan. 

If Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegte in- 
tended to add an air of fantasy to their 
palace sets, they succeeded fully, since 
the appointments are very la-de-da. 
William Mellor’s photography, Phil 
Boutelje’s music, Edith Head’s costumes 
and other technical contributions are 
pleasant. 

Part of the magnificence of the fraud, 
it might be said, comes from the dra- 
matic climax he contrives for his presi- 
dential role, in which he makes a sacri- 
fice which renders him, ironically, a 
hero in fact — a good twist. 

Impersonations by Akim Tamiroff, 
done with master strokes, are highly in- 
teresting, hut many picture-goers would 
find the story one in which they could 
place little credence. Some slushy love 
scenes and other elements make it not 
the best entertainment for children, if 
indeed they would find it eventful 
enough. 

Blondie Picture 

Has Airy Spirit 

BLONDIE TAKES A VACATION, Columbia 

Producer Robert Sparks 

Director Frank R. Strayer 

Photography Henry Freulich 

Film editor Viola Lawrence 

Cast: Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry 

Simms, Daisy, Danny Mummert, Donald 
Meek, Donald MacBride, Thomas W. Ross, 
Elizabeth Dunne, Robert Wilcox, Harlan 
Briggs, Irving Bacon. Running time, 68 min 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
HIS new one of the Blondie series 
should take the fancy of the family 
trade as readily as have the earlier pic- 


tures. And even those picture-goers who 
do not generally favor the lower budget 
productions should be taken in by the 
unusual qualities of the show — airiness, 
youthfulness, buoyancy. 

In a key of broad farce is the story, 
so much so, in fact, that one wonders if 
a little more emphasis on human values 
would not have been to the picture’s ad- 
vantage. There is some good fun in the 
tomfoolery, however. The screen play, 
by Richard Flournoy from a story by 
perhaps too many people, has the short- 
coming of a climax which leaves Blondie 
and Dagwood on the sidelines, the cen- 
ter of interest being little Baby Dump- 
ling and another, which makes the con- 
clusion seem a little premature. The 
vacationing couple lead an eventful ex- 
istence up till then, though. 

Baby Very Bright 

€J Dialogue is racy and witty in a 
broad sort of way. Some of the best 
lines fall to little Larry Simms, as Baby 
Dumpling, and he delivers them in a 
fetching way. The infant, it seems, has 
become so precocious that he views the 
foibles of his parents with a resigned 
tolerance and, on occasion, something 
very near to superciliousness. There is 
humor in this situation, but also a cer- 
tain danger; when infants become too 
knowing and critical, we think of the 
hairbrush. 

Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake 
are in good fettle in their parts, Donald 
Meek makes the most of his role of a 
weak-minded old fellow with an over- 
fondness for playing with matches, and 
voung Danny Mummert, Donald Mac- 
Bride and others are seen to advantage. 

Frank Strayer’s direction fully real- 
izes, and probably augments, the humor 
and sparkle in the script. His sympa- 
thetic handling of Daisy is especially 
notable, a highly expert performance 
being given by the talented canine. 

Henry Freulich’s photography and 
the art direction of Lionel Banks are 
important factor in the agreeable at- 
important factors in the agreeable at- 

Its buoyancy and the likeableness of 
its characters make it enjoyable enter- 
tainment of the unpretentious kind. The 
story is broadly farcical, but you should 
have no trouble in abandoning yourself 
to it. 


Mimeographing 

Multigraphing 

JEANNE EDWARDS 

1655 North Cherokee 
(at Hollywood Blvd.) 
GRanite 0330 


JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE SEVEN 


Character Study 

Lacking in Study 

I STOLE A MILLION. Universal 
Producer ... Burt Kelly 

Director Frank Tuttle 

Screen play Nathanael West 

Photography Milton Krasner 

Film editor Ed Curtiss 

Music director Charles Previn 

Cast: George Raft. Claire Trevor, Dick Foran, 
Henry Armetta, Victor Jory, Joe Sawyer, Rob- 
ert Elliot, Tom Fadden, John Hamilton, Stanley 
Ridges, George Chandler. Mary Forbes, Phil 
Tead, Wallis Clark, Irving Bacon, Hobart 
Cavanaugh, John Butler. Mira McKinney, Jerry 
Marlowe, Jason Robards. Claire Whitney, 
Sarah Padden, Harold Minjir, Ed Chandler, 
Frances Morris. Mary Foy, Edmund MacDon- 
ald. Constance Romanoff, Lee Murray, Ernie 
Adams, A1 Hill, Hal K. Dawson, Henry Roque - 
more, Mike Lally, Jim O'Gatty. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

OW is a desperado born? Well, it’s 
like dis, kids — a fellow tries to be 
an all right guy, see? But them coppers 
jist won’t leave him alone, keep follow- 
in’ him up, even when he has married 
a swell skoit and settled down in a lit- 
tle joint where he goes to choich ever 
Sunday and has built a garage into a 
dandy business. Dey jist won’t forgit 
t’ings. Well, maybe de guy was a little 
hot-headed and stubborn and tried too 
much to do t’ings his own way instead 
of de law’s way, but inside he has a 
heart of gold, see? He ain’t really like 
most criminals. 

Well, de foist t’ing you know, bein’ 
treaded like dis, de guy is holdin’ up 
post offices and mail trains. Dat’s de 
way it goes. See? 

Generous With Excitements 

Having hinted at the spirit and de- 
velopments of I Stole a Million, allow 
me to dispense with the jargon — it is 
too much trouble to write. Purport- 
ing to be a character study of an indi- 
vidual during his degeneration from 
taxi driver to desperado, the film in 
reality is just another gangster tale, with 
the usual generous emphasis on gun 
play, automobile chases and sundry ex- 
citements. 

Universal has published an attractive 
little booklet, in which characters of 
the story, opposite their photographs, 
express divergent interpretations of Joe’s 
character, and from these analyses it 
would seem that somebody at one time 
or another had some ideas which might 
have been the basis for a film of consid- 
erable significance. But the place for in- 
terpretation is on the screen, not in a 
booklet. 

Should Thrill the Goils 

Perhaps the script gave George Raft 
little to start with in the way of a char- 
acter, but evidently he has not placed 
himself under any strain in trying to 
work out a dimensional characteriza- 


tion. T he player’s sensuous-eyed epi- 
sodes will doubtless thrill his Eighth 
Avenue feminine contingent and their 
counterparts elsewhere, however, and 
that was probably the primary purpose 
behind the production at the beginning. 

Claire Trevor does good trouping. 
Her diction and demeanor seem a trifle 
elegant in view of the background this 
character was supposed to have, but per- 
haps I am being hypercritical, since such 
details are considered trivial in contem- 
porary film production. 

Encore For Jory 

•J Dick Foran gives a thoughtful per- 
formance, and Victor Jory does well 
also, cast as a criminal. We should see 
more of him. Tom Fadden and one or 
two others are capable. 

Art direction, supervised by Jack Ot- 
terson, is an attribute, and Milton 
Krasner’s photography is standard. 

Frank Tuttle directed. 

Another gangster story. 

Sandy Engenders 
Halves of “ Cutes 

UNEXPECTED FATHER. Universal 
Producer Ken Goldsmith 

Director Charles Lamont 

Screen play:: Leonard Spigelgass, Charles 

Grayson. 

Photography George Robinson 

Film editor Ted Kent 

Musical direction Charles Previn 

Cast: Sandy Lee, Shirley Ross, Dennis 

O'Keefe, Mischa Auer, Joy Hodges, Dorothy 
Arnold, Anne Gwynne, Anne Nagel, Donald 
Briggs, Richard Lane, Paul Guilfoyle, Mayo 
Methot, Jane Darwell, Spencer Charter, Ygor 
and Tanya. Running time, 73 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
HOSE with maternal or paternal feel- 
ings — and who hasn’t one or the 
other, more or less? — will find much 
gratification in Unexpected Father, in 
which the blond and cooing Baby Sandy 
disports. The baby is a captivating tot. 
A wave of “cutes” from the preview 
audience attended each of his grimaces. 

Moreover, Sandy is a craftsman who 
could teach many of his elder colleagues 
a thing or two about screen acting. He 
feels everything intensely, never over- 
plays, resorts to no artifices of make-up, 
is the most subtle and natural of actors. 

I do hope Miss Sandy will forgive 
my misapplication of gender: he is — 
that is, she is — that good an imper- 
sonator. 

Involves Back-Stage Life 

tj Several incidents of the story seem 
just a bit forced, but the tailor-made 
screen play for starring Sandy is not a 
bad concoction. Centering about the- 
atre life, it provides back-stage glamour 
and opportunity for a couple of dance 
numbers to bolster up sagging moments. 


Movement as a whole, however, is 
pretty good. Feonard Spigelgass and 
Charles Grayson did it. 

An entertainer and his girl friend, of 
the chorus, take the infant under their 
wing, following the death of its parents 
in an automobile accident, the child’s 
mother having been a former dancing 
partner of the young man. Before the 
close of the story nearly everybody in 
the cast is willing to marry someone, 
when it is believed the authorities in- 
tend to place the baby in an orphanage, 
in view of the absence of a domestic 
establishment among the devoted deni- 
zens of the theatre world. The enter- 
tainer and his girl friend have become 
estranged. 

Climax Is Exciting 

•I A breathless climax reminiscent of the 
old Harold Floyd stunting comes about 
when the baby crawls out on the ledge 
of a high building. There were actual 
shrieks in the audience when Mischa 
Auer, in pursuit, falls off. 

Players in support of the youthful 
star are in good fettle, and include Shir- 
ley Ross, individual and charming: Den- 
nis O'Keefe, gingery: and the afore- 
’’ mentioned Mischa Auer, broad but 
funny. Paul Guilfoyle and Mayo Me- 
thot characterize effectively a pair' of 
rough-necks. A dance team, Ygor and 
Tanya, are in the sensational class in 
the acrobatic dance field. 

Posies are due Charles Famont, direc- 
tor, for his coaxing or scheming or both 
to get the reactions from Baby Sandy. 

Jack Otterson's art direction, George 
Robinson’s photography, Charles Prev- 
in’s musical supervision, and the gowns 
of Vera West are assets. 

Centers about the captivating Baby 
Sandy, with back-stage life and some 
dance specialties thrown in. Acceptable 
entertainment of the popular sort. 

It Introduces 

a Clever Comic 

MILLION DOLLAR LEGS, Paramount 
Associate producer William C. Thomas 

Director Nick Grinde 

Assistant director Joseph Leiert 

Screen play Lewis R. Foster, Richard English 
Original Lewis R. Foster 

Photography Harry Fischbeck 

Film editor Arthur Schmidt 

Cast: Betty Grable, John Hartley, Donald 

O'Connor, Jackie Coogan, Dorothea Kent, 
Joyce Mathews, Peter Hayes, Larry Crabbe, 
Richard Denning, Phillip Warren, Edward Ar- 
nold, Jr„ Thurston Hall, Roy Gordon, Matty 
Kemp, William Tracy. Running time, 63 min- 
utes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
HERE is really but one reason for 
reviewing Million Dollar Legs, since 
you have already seen the picture many, 
many, many times before. Better add 
another “many.” It is a college picture 



PAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


and this time the sport is crew racing — 
formula 2d in the little blue book. 

The one reason, let me hasten to 
elucidate, is that the offering serves to 
introduce to picture audiences a certain 
Peter Hayes, a young man with very 
unusual gifts as a comedian. 

We Begin At Beginning 

€J With your indulgence, however, I 
shall begin at the beginning of my im- 
pression of the chap’s ability. One 
night some weeks ago I stayed on to see 
the stage show following a preview at 
the Paramount theatre. Onto the stage 
came a young fellow nattily attired in a 
white Palm Beach suit, loaded with 
poise, flashing an expansive smile, and 
generally exuding class with the capital 
“A.” Following an agreeable turn of 
song, he went into his principal offer- 
ing, a series of impersonations of every- 
one from Rudy Vallee to Lionel Barry- 
more. Well, the lad wowed ’em, to bor- 
row a figure from the parlance of var- 
iety. They clapped and whistled for 
more; and this in a house where, its 
stage presentations now on too low a 
production budget, I have seen eggs 
laid — to borrow another figure from 
variety — the size of dinosaurs’. Or 
did dinosaurs lay eggs? 

Anyway, the fellow's wit, his salty 
sense of caricature, his ear for the re- 
production of tonal values, and his 
range of vocal effects and gestures were 
remarkable. 

Has Exceptional Potentialities 

<][ Being a firm believer in the adage 
about a beaten track to one’s door if he 
can do anything uncommonly well, I 
predicted then that we would soon be 
hearing from the chap in a larger way. 
And here he is with a fat part in the 
“moom pichures.” 

Hayes brings with him his bounteous 
bag of tricks. There is something fas- 
cinating in his constantly and widely 
varied assaults of vocal effects, gestures, 
and facial play. That he gives a char- 
acterization, I will not vouch for — 
though his role, of course, was written 
merely as a gag part. Still, he might 
have been a little more selective with 
his tricks. Moreover, much of what he 
does needs some modification for cine- 
matic purposes; it is a bit too physical 
and too broad. And yet he takes every 
scene in which he appears, fills the screen 
with animation, humor, and warmth. 
The actor has exceptional potentialities. 
He needs more sophisticated story mate- 
rial, however. 

Do Drop Us a Card 

The others are all right, including 
Betty Grable, though she screams some 
of her lines, John Hartley, Donald 
O’Connor, Jackie Coogan, and others. 

His directorial assignment called for 
no subtlety, and Nick Grinde has not 
bothered to impose any. 


If you are a college student who 
wears loud clothes, never even speaks 
of a book, spends most of the waking 
hours bouncing about and yelling or 
stewing over fraternity pins or athletic 
teams, by all means see the film, as you 
will convulse over the humor, and work 
vourself into hysteria at the climax. 
Only, if you are such a person, do drop 
me a post card and I shall spend my 
next vacation looking you up. I have 
never seen such a creature. 

Another college yarn, centering this 
time about crew racing. You know the 
rest. Except that the picture introduces 
a clever young comedian who will bear 
watching, the name, Peter Hayes. 


About Some One V 
Killing Somebody 


NEWS IS MADE AT NIGHT, 20th-Fox 


Executive producer Sol M. Wurtzel 

Producer Edward Kaufman 

Director Alfred Werker 

Original screen play John Larkin 

Photography Ernest Palmer 

Film editor Nick De Maggio 

Musical direction Samuel Kaylin 


Cast: Preston Foster, Lynn Bari, Russell Glea- 
son, George Barbier, Eddie Collins, Minor 
Watson, Charles Halton, Paul Harvey, Richard 
Lane, Charles Lane, Betty Compson, Paul Fix, 
Paul Guilfoyle. Running time, 70 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
liJOT a bad B show. The picture is 
iV slow in gaining our interest, largely 
because the exposition is rather clumsy, 
but once under way it presents some 
suspensive situations and provocative 
comedy touches. The story is princip- 
ally about newspaper people, about a 
managing editor and a comely feminine 
reporter who suspect that a man facing 
the lethal gas chamber, convicted of 
murder, is really innocent, and that 
someone else shot somebody for some 
reason or other, a band of gangsters 
and a mysterious underworld boss fig- 
uring in the pernicious enterprise. I am 
not too sure yet about this primary cir- 


cumstance. 


Possibly it is explained clearly enough 
if one is alert, but audience alertness 
cannot be assumed. In good screen writ- 
ing the identity of characters and their 
relationships should be evident however 
passive the attitude of the spectator. The 
attention of any audience is something 
which must be won. It grows along 
v/ith interest in the story, and interest 
is dependent on our familiarity with 
the characters and situations. Screen 
audiences are more attracted by what 
they see than what they hear. 


Has Jaunty Air 

Cl The saving grace of the film is the 
humor which Author John Larkin has 
injected into it. Apparently perceiving 
the importance of the comedy values, 


Alfred Werker has played them up cap- 
ably in his direction, probably impro- 
vising a bit, with the result that the 
piece acquires at times a very jaunty 
spirit. A scene in which an actor, hired 
to impersonate a dying gangster, loses 
his putty nose, though preposterous, is 
capital buffoonery. 

Preston Foster plays with his usual 
vigor and conviction. On reflection, I 
have not seen him give other than a 
good show. Lynn Bari is spritely and 
attractive as the heroine, and Eddie 
Collins stands out with his clowning. 
Russell Gleason, George Barbier, and 
Minor Watson are well cast. 

Newspaper Office Disagreeable 
<fl On the production side, Ernest Pal- 
mer has provided some dramatic photo- 
graphic effects, an especially good one 
being a crane shot, which swoops down 
on a prisoner isolated in a square cage 
in the middle of a large room, being 
under individual guard. Sets and back- 
grounds are agreeable. 

Adding no appeal to the picture is 
the atmosphere it attributes to a news- 
paper office. Newspaper people, it seems, 
work in an environment of incessant 
bickering, rudeness, and authoritative 
reprehension. 

Standard B entertainment, but noth- 
ing more. A mystery yarn, it is slow 
to gain interest, but some of the laughs 
are substantial . Not objectionable for 
the children. 


Rooney Coins Laughs 
in Domestic Comedy 


ANDY HARDY GETS SPRING FEVER. MGM 
Director W. S. Van Dyke 

Screen play Kay Van Riper 

Characters Aurania Houverol 

Musical score Edward Ward. David Snell 
Recording director Doualas Shearer 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Associate art director Stan Rogers 

Set decorations Edwin B. Willis 

Film editor Ben Lewis 


Cast: Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Cecilia 

Parker, Fay Holden, Ann Rutherford, Sara 
Haden, Helen Gilbert, Terry Kilburn, John T. 
Murray, George Breakston, Charles Peck, Sid- 
ney Miller, Addison Richards, Olaf Hylton, 
Erville Alderson, Robert Kent. Running time. 


87 minutes. 

Reviewed by George T urner 


r O THOROUGHLY understand the 
appeal of domestic comedy, if for no 
other reason, one should see this picture. 
The old apothegm, “How true that is! 
applies to much of the characterization, 
as one might expect. But in a play 
packed with laughs, any layman can 
appreciate the role direction has in pav- 
ing the way and bringing out to best 
advantage spoken lines, and this first of 
the Hardy family series to be directed 
by W. S. Van Dyke pays tribute in de- 


JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE NINE 


tail to his judgment. It is excellent en- 
tertainment. 

The cast has done a noble job — 
showing the advantage of previous 
working together in parts individually 
contrasting, clear-cut and well compre- 
hended: and this seventh of the Hardy 
scries has story value, however familiar 
its main situations, for the play moves 
without dull moments and provides as 
fine a vehicle for that talented young- 
ster, Mickey Rooney, as can well be 
conceived. 

New Player Does Well 

•J It deals primarily with the adolescent 
susceptibility of the sixteen-year-old for 
his new dramatic teacher, some years 
older: in balance being the business 

worries of Judge Hardy, who has in- 
duced friends to invest in a deal which 
proves crooked. The teacher is portray- 
ed by Helen Gilbert, recently a cello 
player in the MGM orchestra. It is her 
first picture, and the role, difficult as it 
is, reveals Miss Gilbert as a promising 
actress. Seldom does one see a bit of 
nuance so well handled, for example, 
as in the opening school scene where, 
while addressing her class, the teacher 
becomes conscious of the amorous re- 
gard of Mickey. Throughout the play, 
Miss Gilbert acts with a refinement and 
restraint that relieve the main situation 
of that which could easily become re- 
pellent and cheap. 

Andy (Mickey) is studying Romeo 
and Juliet, and barely over his rebuff 
by Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford), 
he remarks, "I used to think that kiss- 
ing Polly Benedict was more important 
than Shakespeare” — providing one of 
the heartiest laughs of the show. He 
confides his affliction to his father (Lewis 
Stone) , who is expressively tolerant. 
The presentation of Mickey’s play, 
where the jilted Tahitian lass (Ann 
Rutherford) jumps into a volcano as a 
climax, and Mickey in an admiral’s uni- 
form forgets his lines upon discovering 
that his adored teacher has a lover, is a 
rollicking sequence near the end of the 
play. 

Takes Farcical Turn 

Throughout are pardonable exagger- 
ations of realism, verging close to farce 
comedy at times. But dialogue clever- 
ness and an established sympathy for 
the characters compensate. The most 
avid patron of costumed historical ro- 
mance can scarcely fail to enter into the 
spirit of this type of domestic comedy, 
which cannot be judged by drab, arti- 
ficial offerings of the past. It vindi- 
cates the long appeal of radio family 
stories, adding that brilliancy and in- 
timacy which only visualized scenes can 
supply. Its acting requirements in many 
phases seem actually greater than in 
more grandiloquent portrayals. Kay 
Van Riper’s dialogue habitually meets 
the situation and sparkles. 


Lewis Stone, as Judge Hardy, is all 
that can be desired, and Ann Ruther- 
ford, as Polly Benedict, is archly ex- 
pressive at all times. She is to appear 
as Scarlet O’Hara’s younger sister in 
Gone With the Wind. 

Universal appeal, and particularly 
gratifying to women and youngsters, 
end all who enjoy domestic situations. 
From a study angle there is much to 
observe in build-up, contrast, move- 
ment and balance. 


Forty Years of Film 
Dash by in Review 

Reviewed by George Turner 

f ORE than forty years of motion pic- 
ture history is briefly sketched in 
this interestingly reminiscent showing, 
which, for those who did not see the 
first crude beginnings, provides many a 
chuckle. But it is worth bearing in 
mind that the early flickers had as much 
thrill in one way as our super-spectacles 
have in another, and there were change 
and progress and many a big surprise to 
keep them popular. 

From the famous kissing couple of 
1896, recognizable as May Irwin and 
John C. Rice, to an actual cinema play, 
The Great Train Robbery, of 1903, is 
a stupendous stride. The hurling of the 
dummy from the speeding train after 
the death-dealing struggle was not a 
laugh thirty-six years ago, despite its 
unlifelike appearance. Youngsters today 
will find it hard to believe it was not 
intended as burlesque. The same is 
true of much else in the sagas of film- 
dom. Among the glimpsed milestones 
are Tillie's Punctured Romance with 
Marie Dressier and Chaplin; on to 
The Birth of a Nation. 1913, which 
introduces Lillian Gish in this first 
feature-length picture and immortal- 
izes D. W. Griffith, producer. Then 
the birth of western serials, showing 
Bill Hart gaming and shooting; the 
Mack Sennett and Theda Bara era, 
Mary Garden in Thais', then the ’20s 
— Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, 
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., in Robin Hood, 
where vast scenic interiors loomed upon 
an astonished public; The Big Parade. 

Good-bye to silent pictures. A1 Jol- 
son appears in I he Jazz Singer; another 
jump to All Quiet on the Western 
Front, and we leap to Paul Muni in 
Emile Zola. In this panorama of years 
we have caught sight of other familiars: 
Ben Turpin, Renee Adoree, John Gil- 
bert, Karl Dane, Will Rogers, Diana 
Wynward, Greta Garbo — some of these 
never to be seen again, and the March of 
Time sets us thinking in a different 
mood than usual. 


Potentates of the industry are view- 
ed in their offices: Hays, Joe Green, 

censor: de Mille, the Schencks, Zanuck, 
Harry Warner, and the famed inventor, 
de Forest. Would that there might 
have been a shot of Edison at work on 
the first “moving picture” at Orange, 
New Jersey. 

Some twenty-five principal scenes are 
given throughout the program, and 
they come from the New York Museum 
of Modern Art, which is said to house 
the only complete collection of produc- 
tions. The historical review looks for- 
ward in the mention of Chaplin’s The 
Dictator and Gone With the Wind, 
both long in preparation, and John 
Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, for which 
Zanuck has paid $75,000. With such 
rations time indeed marches on. 



G lea sou Family in 
JVell Directed One 

SHOULD HUSBANDS WORK. Republic 

Associate producer Sol C. Siegel 

Director Gus Meins 

Original screen play: Jack Townley, Taylor 

Caven. 

Photographer Jack Marta 

Film editor William Morgan 

Art director John Victor Mackay 

Musical director Cy Feuer 

Cast: James Gleason, Lucile Gleason, Rus- 

sell Gleason, Harry Davenport, Marie Wilson, 
Mary Hart, Tommy Ryan, Berton Churchill, 
Henrv Kolker, Arthur Hoyt, Barry Norton, 
Mary Forbes, William Brisbane, Harry Brad- 
ley. 

Reviewed by Tom Miranda 
HE laugh-provoking Gleason family 
take us through another series of hi- 
larious episodes in the lives of a scenar- 
ist’s idea of a typical midwest home, 
in this well-directed and most capably 
acted film from Republic studios. 

Harry Davenport, as “Dad” scores 
heavily in an exaggerated portrayal of 
Mr. and Mrs. Midwest’s average grand- 
pa, and keeps the audience highly amus- 
ed by his moronic antics. 

A Tip to Ambitious Wives 

€fl The highlights of the film are too 
numerous to mention. One, however, 
which should cause all ambitious wives 
who see the film to hesitate and ponder 
well the situation before attempting to 
solve their husbands' problems, is 
where Lucille Gleason takes a hand. 

Her husband has been summoned be- 
fore a board of directors to qualify for 
the managership of a new cosmetic 
manufacturing plant. Through the in- 
sane habits of “Dad,” said husband 
awakes from his night's sleep in the 
family trailer on the shore of a lake in 
the mountains the morning of his ap- 
pointment. His wife, hoping to save 
his face, forces herself into the presence 
of the assembled board of directors, and 
( Continued on page 11) 


PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Jilin IJfuJ/c ant! tflakete 


HE title They Shall Have Music is a 
decidedly appropriate one for the lat- 
est Goldwyn picture, in which Jascha 
Heifetz “plays himself” and his Stradi- 
various on a large scale. Not intending 
any innuendo, I feel that the title of this 
film is as significant as the qualities of 
the picture. Goldwyn may not have 
purposed to make a picture propagand- 
izing the right of every child to an 
early opportunity in musical training, 
nevertheless he has done so. And he has 
done it splendidly. 

If I say that the story, the filmization 
or the playing of Jascha Heifetz never 
caused me one beat of piercing heart- 
ache, not one moment of throat stric- 
ture, not a drop of eye moisture, then 
the reader should take this as a purely 
personal reaction. No one should miss 
They Shall Have Music, although it 
does not possess that inner urgency and 
genuine emotional excitement and ela- 
tion which distinguished the musical 
and histrionic-dramatic elements in One 
Hundred Men and a Girl. But the race 
is a close one. 

Splendid Achievement 

Cf This Goldwyn picture is a splendid 
musical achievement in itself, apart from 
its general human or social implications. 
To have induced Jascha Heifetz to 
come out of his music-aristocratic shell 
of necessary isolation and play before 
a photographic sound camera, that alone 
entitles Samuel Goldwyn to world-wide 
thanks. It is useless to lament the ab- 
sence of a sound-film record recording 
Beethoven playing, Wagner conduct- 
ing. and so on. Moonlight Sonata with 
Paderewski had decided shortcomings, 
yet I will be one of the first to see and 
hear it again, although I found it im- 
possible to sit through the last recital 
given here by the illustrious Pole. Or 
I shall go to see the film, because of the 
tragedy of his last concert. 

Heifetz plays the violin in The y 
Shall Have Music with that miraculous 
poise and perfection which have made 
so many of his personal appearances 
such strangely hypnotic experiences. The 
screen provides more than a master lesson 
for all violinists, for there is hardly an 
angle or a close-up which does not 
concentrate on the super-virtuoso’s fin- 
gers travelling with well nigh magic 
sureness up and down the finger board. 
His right hand and bow is seen travers- 
ing the strings, coaxing and ordering 
them into lovely and impelling elo- 
quence. The camera lense studies his 
face, searching it for those inner springs 
of feeling, fantasy and fertility of ex- 
pressional strength which have made 
Heifetz the idolized violinist he is. It 
is intriguing to try and read this face 
which bespeaks artistic integrity and 


human intensity. It also is a face that 
can be easily misread. Ultimately, this 
is a music film and a music film while 
made for the eye, comes up for final ver- 
dict before the ear. 

Page Mr, Newman 

q That every care has been taken to 
insure an excellent recording may be 
taken for granted. The Goldwyn staff, 
and Alfred Newman, musical director 
in charge of the score and musical ren- 
ditions, who is seen in one scene giving 
Heifetz a fine orchestra accompaniment 
in the Saint-Saens Rondo Capriccioso, 
have gone to full efforts. Paul Neal, in 
charge of recording, who did such beau- 
tiful work when recording the score for 
Stagecoach and Wuthering Heights, 
again controlled the microphones. Some 
of his best tone quality was hardened 
and thus spoiled during the preview, 
because sound volume was too big. How 
long will it take before those in charge 
of previews will learn that loud, explo- 
sive sound is anything but beautiful or 
convincing, that it is the very opposite 
from being expressive? 

Heifetz is heard in the Saint-Saens 
opus already mentioned: the Hora Stac- 
cato, by Dinico: Estrellita, his own ar- 
rangement: and the finale from the 

Mendelssohn violin concerto. The pro- 
gram lists also the Tschaikowsky Mel- 
ody, but I must confess to not recalling 
this piece, which lapse I can explain 
only by saying that in trying to gain a 
most complete impression, some things 
are apt to slip through the meshes of 
memory. 

Children's Orchestra 

q This is not the first time that I hesi- 
tate praising Heifetz, not because I think 
praise should be withheld, but for rea- 
sons of his established superlativeness. 
As Deems Taylor remarks in the pre- 
view program, one may not always be 
wholly at one with Heifetz the artist, 
yet he ranks beyond disagreement. 

Great praise is due to Peter Merem- 
blum and his Southern California Ju- 
nior Symphony. They are heard in 
highly musical readings of the accom- 
paniment to Heifetz’s performance of 
Mendelssohn and the Barber of Se- 
ville overture by Rossini, slightly re- 
scored I think. They also accompany 
Verdi’s Caro Nome and Bellini’s Casta 
Diva arias, sung by a truly remarkable 
child soprano, Jacqueline Nash, and in 
parts from Mendelssohn's Italian Sym- 
phony and Mozart's Kleine Nacht Mu- 
sik. To laud the children is to laud 
their conductor-mentor, Peter Merem- 
blum. By having these youngsters ap- 
pear in sight and sound , Goldwyn has 
dorte something wonderful indeed which 
should inspire countless thousands of 
children and parents. It was wise not 


BY 

BRUNO DAVID USSHER 

to “doctor” the sound of this juvenile 
orchestra or to let the little prima donna 
appear the kind of vocal wonder child 
which in reality cannot exist because 
nature accomplishes only the near-im- 
possible. 

Consistent Values 

q J'hese children play and sing so spon- 
taneously and expressively that minor 
blemishes make their good points rate 
all the higher. Little Miss Nash — 
whom I heard in person during a re- 
cording — is marvelously gifted in ev- 
ery regard. The charmingly serious and 
amusing piano soli of tiny Mary Ruth 
in Chopin’s Minute Waltz was treated 
in the same way. I am sorry that Wal- 
ter Brennan, as head of the school, con- 
ducts with obvious lack of rhythm. The 
picture is a real inside story of the “ups 
and downs” of an eastside music school, 
run by an idealistic musician for the 
sake of the children rather than for the 
sake of shekels. The story permits the 
use of such incidental music as one hears 
at a busy establishment of that kind, a 
fact enhancing the musical value of the 
picture and giving it musical consistency. 
Known while in the making as Music 
School, this Heifetz-starred production 
is now titled They Shall Have Music. 
And a good title it is, and a great mes- 
sage it conveys. 

REVIEWS 

(Continued from page 10) 
in an effort to alibi her husband's ab- 
sence, elaborates on his qualifications and 
magnify the superiority of the products 
he has manufactured from his formu- 
las, sells herself into the job as manager. 

Fine Direction and Acting 

q Direction by Gus Meins from the 
well written screen play by Jack Town- 
ley and Taylor Caven is excellent 
throughout. 

Photography, editing and art direc- 
tion satisfactory. 

The cast, without an exception, is 
perfect for this production. Those 
well-known portrayers of many char- 
acters, Henry Kolker, who seems never 
to age, and Berton Churchill, ably as- 
sisted by Arthur Hoyt, are splendid. 

Marie Wilson, as Myrtle, Russel 
Gleason’s wife, is impressive. And, of 
course, the Gleason family is, as always, 
par-excellent. 

Suitable for any theatre showing 
clean, high class and wholesome enter- 
tainment. Take the entire family, in- 
cluding grandpa, grandma and Aunt 
Tilley, and give them a treat. Dad will 
love this one. 


★ Motion picture appreciation ulti- 
mately will be a part of every high 
school curriculum. 


JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE ELEVEN 


$ Cater the tflidtfle We At 


BOARD a train speeding eastward 
last month was your correspondent, 
being carried "away from it all" for a 
spell, away from previews and studios, 
arc lights, publicity stunts, and osten- 
tation, back into the real Americana. 
Over hundreds of miles of hot, gleam- 
ing desert the train pushed, and then 
through hundreds of miles of the verd- 
ant Mississippi valley, its green fields 
of wheat swept by graceful billows driv- 
en before recurring breezes, its forests 
fresh and shady and strewn with rich 
fern, a beautiful country this time of 
year. 

Most of the towns present streets 
lined with massive overhanging elms, 
and under them walk people who are 
the most typical Americans. They are 
absorbed with truly important concerns, 
concerns which, shared by millions of 
citizens in other small towns and cities 
of the country, give our nation its great- 
ness — the civic improvements of their 
town, the building of the new high 
school, business success of local mer- 
chants, the prospects of sending their 
children to college — all important mat- 
ters, though Hollywood would not con- 
sider them so, nor Broadway. Holly- 
wood thinks the world revolves about 
Hollywood. The little towns are just 
"jumping off places.” 

Films Unique Art Medium 

<1 This attitude is reflected in motion 
pictures, where the viewpoints and prob- 
lems of these most typical Americans 
are seldom given any comprehensive or 
penetrating representation. Come to 
think of it, tbe motion picture is the 
only art medium that is not in close 
contact with the people. Music, poetry, 
the dance, drama and other literary 
forms are interwoven with the social 
fabric. To a large extent they spring 
from the people as a whole, and they 
remain a part of popular expression 
through interpretation. 

But motion pictures are made almost 
solely in Hollywood or New York. 
With the possible exception of music, 
the only contact the film industry has 
with the masses is through literature, 
and even when a searching piece of fic- 
tion is adopted to the screen, the result 
generally bears the stamp of cinema- 
land. 

Their Viewpoints Refreshing 

Cl Most of these people have never seen 
a motion picture star in person, know 
nothing of guild problems or industrial 
codes; of players who cannot afford to 
be human, who must always be seen 
with the right people, because, children 
of fortune, their position depends large- 
ly on prestige: of old-time players who 


are still internationally known but can- 
not get employment. No, these people 
view Hollywood merely as a rather ro- 
mantic place on the west coast that con- 
tributes the social need of entertain- 
ment, as Detroit contributes the motor 
cars. They are interested in the screen 
and its players as a source of entertain- 
ment, romance, or artistic stimulus, but 
the film capital and the players exist for 
them only in a sort of mythological 
way. 

It is refreshing to be among them 
and share their viewpoints. One gets 
a prespective on all the sound and fury 
of filmland. 

The Play's the Thing 

Cl Over fifteen hundred miles were trav- 
eled by automobile in the Middle West, 
seeing relatives and taking in the coun- 
tryside. Keeping my ears pricked in an 
endeavor to sense the prevalent view- 
points on motion pictures of the public 
at large, I gathered that the interest in 
players themselves is not as great as it 
once was. Not once that I recall was I 
asked, ‘‘Have you seen Greta Garbo?’’, 
a question commonly put on a visit 
several years ago; but I was asked num- 
erous times, "Have you seen Juarez?” 
or some other outstanding film. The 
old fan enthusiasm is dying down. 

People are shopping for entertain- 
ment more than ever, and on the basis 
of a picture’s total merit. There is pro- 
gressively less of attending film theatres 
for lack of something else to do. There 
is plenty else to do. Sports are an out- 
standing interest of the average person, 
the dominant recreational interest of 
many, an enthusiasm doubtless given 
impetus by the radio. Golf has become 
tremendously popular throughout the 
Middle West. 

Paradox Impresses Us 

C! Dancing is popular too. In fact, I 
am told that the business of booking 
dance orchestras throughout the coun- 
try is thriving in an unprecedented way, 
despite general business conditions. 

Double bills, of course, are every- 
where. But no one likes them. Getting 
the same reactions in querying people 
from one town to another, one is struck 
by the paradox in the circumstance that 
the double bills are unpopular and yet 
continue to be shown month after 
month. A food manufacturer would 
not continue to market a product the 
public did not like, nor an automobile 
manufacturer. The motion picture pro- 
ducer does. 

Westerns Preferred 

IJ One night I chatted with a local ex- 
hibitor in Bethany, Missouri, a little 



BY 

BERT HARLEN 


town of less than five thousand popu- 
lation in the heart of the farming dis- 
trict. Farmers form a sizeable part of 
picture audiences, especially on week- 
ends — leather-skinned, hearty, courage- 
ous people who wave to you as you jog 
along dirt roads off the highways, peo- 
ple who must work long hours in the 
beating sun and bitter cold; with little 
time or inclination for subtlety of 
thought; as a class, underpaid, the least 
advanced culturally. 

Coming to town, they want excite- 
ment. Westerns are the favored fare. 
Sophisticated dramas do not go. Mane 
Antoinette was a bust. The best busi- 
ness of recent months was done with 
Jessie James. Dodge City was success- 
ful too. 

Fifty Per Cent Action Wanted 

The exhibitor, an intelligent and an- 
alytical fellow, thinks that pictures to 
be successful with any audience should 
be fifty per cent action. Did he think 
most films contained that much action. 
I asked. No, was his reply. Toward 
the distributing exchanges he is not 
friendly. Block booking. 

That night was dime night — all seats 
a dime. There was a fairly good house. 
The show really was not worth any 
more, however — a B picture, with Jack 
Holt, and some shorts. 

National Solidarity Evinced 

<1 Though Westerns are favored by the 
farmers, they manage to derive sufficient 
entertainment from the more worldly 
offerings, the usual tenor of the shows 
being dictated by the tastes of the 
townspeople. Coming attractions were 
Society Lawyer and It's a Wonderful 
World. It is interesting to note the ex- 
tent of the attitudes and ideas held in 
common by these groups with different 
modes of living, but even more inter- 
esting — in fact, remarkable and admir- 
able- — is the growing national solidar- 
ity evinced by the fact that the run of 
motion pictures can entertain both Beth- 
any and Broadway. 

There are no more small towns in 
the old sense, isolated habitats of the 
proverbial hick. Radio, rapid transpor- 
tation, motion pictures, extensive mag- 
azine publication, and advanced educa- 
tional systems have eliminated them. 
A few backward communities may exist 
in remote mountainous regions, but the 
nation as a whole is becoming one great 
metropolis, with foci in the big cities. 
Girls on the streets of Bethany dress 
and behave the same as those on Holly- 
wood Boulevard. 

Only mishap: slipped on a slippery 
floor in a Kansas City restaurant, and 
I still sit quietly. 


PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Studios Interested 

in f ocal Robot 

By George T urner 

J UST what the Vocoder will do for 
film, radio and sound recording is a 
subject which at the moment is tantal- 
izing technicians. The modest claims 
of the Bell laboratories — that it is not 
a finished product, that it is the out- 
growth of a mere telephonic experiment 
— are sagacious enough to whet studio 
curiosity the more. However, the re- 
cent demonstrations of the electrical in- 
strument have proved sufficiently amaz- 
ing to cause experts to predict even more 
than the utilization of trick effects. 

Among the sensational stunts of this 
device that manufactures speech are: 
talking or singing into a microphone 
and causing a string quartet or a pipe 
organ to assimilate the words. The in- 
struments literally sing words in their 
own individual tones. Similarly, the 
hum of an airplane or a dynamo, or the 
sound of a locomotive, acquire rhythmic 
speech. Again, the singing of one voice 
at the microphone becomes a trio — 
three-voice harmony, through combin- 
ing different pitch channels. The in- 
tervals remaining constant are therefore 
not harmonically perfect at all times, 
but even this defect can be overcome, 
if need be. Whether worth while, is 
another question. 

Remade Speech 

CJ The Vocoder is a process by which 
sound of any kind is broken down 
through an analyzer, and reconstructed 
by a synthesizer. Many variations be- 
come possible as the sound stream is 
re-made. 

The application of the Vocoder in 
speech study comes particularly from its 
ability to vary each of the elements of 
speech singly or together, the raw mate- 
rial of speech consisting of two sound 
streams. The first stream has three 
properties: pitch, determined by fre- 
quency of vibration; intensity, or the 
total sound power of the speaker, and 
quality, determined by the relative 
amounts of sound power carried in fixed 
frequency bands. As the stream pro- 
ceeds, all three properties vary. The 
second sound stream has no pitch, but 
has varying intensity and quality. Only 
one of the two streams is active at one 
one time during most of the speech. 

The first sound stream, “the buzz,’’ 
resembles a muted automobile horn — 
a monotone, from which single note 
electrical filters distinguish thirty differ- 
ent ranges of overtones, covering the 
gamut of the human voice. The same 
filters then break down the second 
stream, “the hiss,’’ into thirty ranges. 
7'he hiss is the “s”, “f”, “sh”, soft “th” 
and “c” and “h" of ordinary speech. 


Mixing by finger controls, the analyz- 
ing circuit, thus picking out thirty parts, 
permits their control in proper amount 
before they reach the loud speaker. 
With the buzzer alone, the voice pitch 
is a flat monotone; the hiss alone con- 
verts the voice to a somewhat faint 
whisper. 

Artificial Inflection 

Odd manifestations in vocal expres- 
sion are contrived by reducing the vari- 
ations of pitch. The Vocoder can make 
an enthusiastic sentence sound emotion- 
less and dull, or, vice versa. When the 
swing of pitch is cut in half, the voice 
seems flat and dragging; when the swing 
is twice normal, the voice becomes bril- 
liant, and four times normal makes it 
febrile and unnatural. By reversing the 
controls, high becomes low, a tune is 
heard upside down, talk takes on a 
Scandinavian lilt. An artificial vibrato 
can be injected into tones, seeming to 
be practically normal at six waves a 
second and becoming a rapid tremulo at 
ten. Running up and down the elec- 
trical frequency scale, a man’s voice at 
the microphone is soprano at 275 cycles 
and a sub-human double bass at sixteen 
cycles. 

From a utility point of view, the 
Vocoder in its present state seems most 
likely to interest animated cartoon pro- 
ducers, who are avidly discussing its 
possibilities. That it will effect any 
striking departures in sound recording 
for live subjects is more questionable, 
despite its astonishing tonal perform- 
ances. As a means of overcoming the 
limitations of actors and singers it may 
function in various ways, beyond the 
mere changing of vocal pitch as already 
contrived by filters. 

Move To Shozv Hozv 
Pictures Are Made 

HE butterfly must emerge from the 
cocoon. Great oaks from little acorns 
grow. 

Back in 1924, Mrs. Ina Roberts, now 
editor of the Spectator's “Books and 
Films" department, conceived the idea 
of linking, for the benefit of the reading 
public, films and the books from which 
these are made as well as other books 
connecting with them by subject. The 
details were still vague. However, she 
took the idea to the local film exchanges 
of her town, Cleveland, where she was 
occupying the position of publicity di- 
rector of the Cleveland Public Library. 

The late M. A. Malaney, then pub- 
licity man for Loew’s Cleveland The- 
atres, had faith; he merely said, after 
listening to Mrs. Roberts: “You and I 
are going to work together a lot.” Mrs. 
Roberts and C. C. Dourdourff, MGM 
ace exploitation man, worked out the 


first film bookmark, which was for 
Scaramouche. The Cleveland library 
made the book list for this, and dis- 
tributed the bookmarks. Other film ex- 
hibits and bookmarks in other libraries 
followed. Gradually the idea, aided by 
the powerful influence and expert han- 
dling of the Cleveland library, spread 
throughout the country. Later came the 
study guides; the magazine, The Motion 
Picture and the Family, published for 
three years by the Hays organization; 
Mrs. Roberts’ own magazine, Books 
and Films, which is now combined with 
the Spectator as a department; and last, 
but not least, the research panels that 
opened the schools to direct cooperation 
with films. 

From Idea to Fulfillment 

Cf About this time, after studying care- 
fully his capabilities and character, Mrs. 
Roberts took into her office Frederick 
Myers, then very young, and trained 
him for several years to fill her position 
when she should leave. Since Mrs. 
Roberts moved to Los Angeles, early in 
1938, Mr. Myers has filled this position 
and is now director of public relations 
for the Cleveland library. 

The foregoing has related to the co- 
coon stage; now Mr. Myers has con- 
ceived another idea, from which the but- 
terfly will issue. 

This idea consists of a plan to link, 
with films, by means of an exhaustive 
exhibit, the books from which these are 
made and the other books related to 
them by subject; also the 276 profes- 
sions involved in their making. 

Mr. Myers says his idea grew out of 
Barret Riesling’s book, Talking Pic- 
tures; How They Are Made: How to 
Appreciate Them, in which Mr. Ries- 
ling states that 276 professions are 
needed to make one motion picture. 

Because he gained his idea from this 
book; because of the faith shown by the 
late M. A. Malaney and C. C. Dour- 
dourff and the later faith and coopera- 
tion shown by MGM, through such 
men as Howart Dietz, W. R. Ferguson, 
Howard Strickling and Barrett Ries- 
ling, Mr. Myers contacted MGM in re- 
gard to his idea. Out of this conference 
has grown the plan for an exhibit. It 
will include books to be filmed, other 
related books and books on the 276 
professions, illustrated by still photo- 
graphs depicting the parts played by the 
276 professions in the making of films. 

Making Still Photos 

•J Mr. Myers is now in Hollywood to 
supervise the making of the still photo- 
graphs at the MGM studios. Upon his 
return to Cleveland, the exhibit will be 
arranged and installed by A. C. Young, 
curator of exhibits for the Cleveland 
Public Library. After having been 
shown there, the exhibit will tour the 
libraries of the country. Librarians of 
(Continued on page 15) 


JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE THIRTEEN 


BY 

INA ROBERTS 


Sock* and JilinA 


Coast Guard 

<| This film deals with the work of the 
United States Coast Guard. Did you 
know that the Coast Guard is seven 
years older than the Navy? That it 
protects seals from poachers, supervises 
sponge fisheries and wild bird protect- 
orates, destroys dangerous derelicts in 
shipping lanes, guards the coast against 
smugglers and customs duty evaders 
and aids in time of war, floods, hurri- 
canes and other disasters? That it 
maintains its own Academy, compar- 
able to West Point and Annapolis? 
That since the Coast Guard instituted 
its Ice Patrol in 1913, the year the Ti- 
tanic sank, not a single life has been 
lost through a ship's collision with ice? 
That it carries mail, supplies and medi- 
cine to Alaskan ports with the annual 
ice break? 

Our Coast Guard, by Evan J. David 
and Coast Guard to the Rescue, by Karl 
Baarslag will be found interesting and 
instructive in connection with the film. 

Burton of Arabia 

<| Darryl Zanuck announces that Bur- 
ton of Arabia will be one of the major 
pictures on the 20th Century-Fox sche- 
dule for the coming year. Sir Richard 
Burton, who, by the way, gave us the 
first literal translation of The Arabian 
Nights, was a born traveler. In dis- 
guise he penetrated into the forbidden 
city of Mecca. His exploits have been 
written by Viscount Castelross. 

Stanley and Livingstone 

This film will be released in August. 
A year and a half ago the director, Otto 
Brower, went with Mrs. Martin John- 
son to Africa to get genuine shots for 
this film. Brower and his safari built 
a village which is an exact replica of 
Ujiji, the place where Henry Stanley 
found the lost missionary, after one of 
the most arduous journeys of history. 


More than 700 natives worked six 
weeks to construct the forty - eight 
thatched houses and a wild animal 
stockade. Brower had previously ar- 
ranged with British government agents 
that this settlement would be available 
to natives after the movie company left 
it. On the day the film expedition de- 
parted 200 natives moved in with no 
rent to pay. The population has since 
swelled to 500, which makes the vil- 
lage one of the ten largest all-native 
settlements in Tanganyika. This vil- 
lage, a replica of Ujiji, has been named 
Browsha after Director Otto Brower. 
It is good news to learn that at last a 
movie-made building is to be lasting 
and to serve a useful purpose after 
playing its part in a film. 

From Stage to College 

CJ Brenda Joyce, whom the movies re- 
cently called from her work at the Uni- 
versity of California, has decided to 
study at night for two years in order 
to complete her course. She makes her 
screen debut in The Rains Came. 

Gilbert and Sullivan 

€J The following books, listed on a 
bookmark issued by the Cleveland Pub- 
lic Library, will be of interest at this 
time: 

W. S. Gilbert, His Life and Letters, 
by Dark U Gray: Bab Ballads, by Gil- 
bert: Original Plays and Savoy Operas, 
The Story of the Mikado, by Gilbert 
(illustrated): Sir Arthur Sullivan, bi- 
ographies by Lawrence and MacLean: 
English Music in the 16th Century, by 
Maitland: In the Garret, by Van Vech- 
ten: Arthur Sullivan, by Wyndham; 
Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, by Al- 
cott: My Wanderings, by Barnabee: 
Gilbert and Sullivan and Their Operas, 
by Cellier and Bridgeman: The Op- 
eras of Gilbert and Sullivan Described, 
by Fitzgerald: Old Boston Museum 
Days, by Ryan; Old Days in Bohemian 
London, by Scott. 


CURRENT FILMS 

Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever — Andy 

turns playwright; school play. MGM 

Bill of Rights — Featurette in historical 
series; John Litel. Crane Wilbur as 
King John, and all-star cast. Warner 

Captain Fury — Australia. 1840; Brian 

Aherne, Paul Lukas. U.A. 

Career — Play by Stong; Anne Shirley, 

Edward Ellis; released 9-15. RKO 

Goodbye, Mr. Chips — Novel by Hilton; 
made in England; Robert Donat, Greer 


Garson; released 6-2; rev. Spec. 5-27. MGM 
Good Girls Go to Paris — Melvyn Doug- 
las. Joan Blondell, Walter Connolly. Col. 

Of Human Bondage — Reissue; Leslie 

Howard, Bette Davis. RKO 

On Borrowed Time — Novel by Edward 
Lawrence Katkin; Frank Morgan; Sir 
Cedric Hardwicke: rev. Spec. 7-8. MGM 

Parents on Trial — Jean Parker, Johnny 

Downs, Noah Beery, Jr. Col. 


Second Fiddle — Formerly When Winter 
Comes-, based on Heart Interest-, play 
by George Bradshaw: songs by Irving 
Berlin: Sonja Henie, Rudy Vallee, Don 
Ameche; released 7-14: rev. Spec. 

7-8. 20th-Fox 

Sons of Liberty — Short; life of Haym 

Salomon. Warner 

Stronger Than Desire — Novel by W. E. 
Woodward: Robert Montgomery, Vir- 
ginia Bruce; rev. Spec. 7-8. MGM 

They All Come Out — Government aid 

to released prisoners. MGM 

The Mikado — Opera by Gilbert and Sul- 
livan; Kenny Baker. Univ. 

Way Down South — Mississippi River, 

1 840; Bob Breen. RKO 

COMING FILMS 

Bachelor Mother — Formerly Little Moth- 
er: play by Felix Jackson; Ginger 

Rogers: released 8-5; rev. Spec. 7-8. RKO 

Bad .Company — Jackie Cooper, Freddie 

Bartholomew. Univ. 

Beau Geste — Novel by Wren; Gary Coop- 
er; released 9-1. Para. 

Chicken Wagon Family — Novel by Barry 

Benefield; released 8-11. 20th-Fox 

Coast Guard — Ralph Bellamy, Randolph 

Scott; released 8-5. Col. 

Double-Dyed Deceiver — Based on 7 he 

Llano Kid, by O. Henry: released 1 1-3. Para. 
Dust Be My Destiny — Novel by Jerome 

Odium: John Garfield, Pat O’Brien. Warner 
Each Dawn I Die — Novel by Jerome 
Odium; James Cagney, Ann Sheri- 
dan; released 8-6. Warner 

Flying Cadets — Freddie Bartholomew, 

Jackie Cooper. Univ. 

Four Feathers — Novel by A. E. W. Ma- 
son; adapted by R. C. Sherriff ; tech- 
nicolor; filmed in England and Sudan; 
released 8-5. U.A. 

Frontier Marshall — Wyatt Earp: Tomb- 
stone, Arizona: silver mining camp: 

Randolph Scott. 20th-Fox 

Geronimo — Apaches in Southwest; Pres- 
ton Foster. Ellen Drew: released 11-10. Para. 
Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence — By 
author of Man to Remember : cross- 
country hiking. 20th-Fox 

Hobby Family — Assorted hobbies: Irene 

Rich, Henry O'Neill; released August. Warner 
In Old California — Slave smuggling; 

1 840; Richard Arlen. Andy Devine. Univ. 
Jamaica Inn — Novel by Daphne Du 
Maurier; Charles Laughton; released 
10-13. Para. 

Ladu and the Knight — Formerly Eliza- 
beth and Essex: formerly Knight and 
the Lady: based on play Elizabeth. 

leased 9-15. 20th-Fox 


FOR YOUR 
CONVENIENCE 

Hollywood Spectator 
6513 Hollywood Blvd. 

Holly wood, California 

Please enter my subscription for — 

□ TWO YEARS, $3.00 □ GNE YEAR, $5.00 

□ Payment in full □ I will remit on receipt of bill 

Name 

City State 


PAGE FOURTEEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Man in the Iron Mask — Louis Hayward. 

Joan Bennett. Doris Kenyon as Queen 
Anne; released July. U.A. 

Memory ot Love — Novel by Bessie Breuer; 

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.: released 9-4. RKO 
No Place to Go — Based on Old Man 

Minick: play by Edna Ferber. Warner 

Nurse Edith Cavell — Anna Neagle, Edna 
May Oliver, May Robson, H. B. War- 
ner. Fritz Leiber, Zasu Pitts. RKO 

Old Grad — Anita Louise, Charley Grape- 

win; story by Matt Gayln. Univ. 

Our Leading Citizen — Bob Burns, Susan 

Hayward; released 8-11. Para. 

The Old Maid — Novel by Edith Whar- 
ton; play by Zoe Akins; Bette Davis. 
Miriam Hopkins. George Brent. Warner 

Pinocchio — Juvenile by C. Collodi; fea- 
ture cartoon; Walt Disney; Christmas 
release. RKO 

Real Glory — Philippines: Gary Cooper, 

Andrea Leeds. David Niven. U.A. 

Roll. Wagons. Roll — Tex Ritter. Mono. 

Stanley and Livingstone — Spencer 

Tracy; released 8-18. 20th-Fox 

Stunt Pilot — Tailspin Tommy; rev. 

Spec. 7-8. Mono. 

Susannah of the Mounties — Juvenile by 
Muriel Denison; Shirley Temple; re- 
leased 6-23. 20th-Fox 

The Women — Play by Clare Booth; Nor- 
ma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind 
Russell. MGM 

They Shall Have Music — Formerly Music 

School ; Jascha Heifetz. U.A. 

What a Life — Play by Clifford Gold- 
smith; high school age; Jackie Coop- 
er, Betty Field, John Howard; released 
10-6. Para. 

The Wizard of Oz — Juvenile by Frank 
Baum; Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney; 

August release. MGM 

Winter Carnival — Sports: Ann Sheridan, 

Richard Carlson; released July 29. U.A. 

A Woman Is the Judge — Otto Kruger, 

Rochelle Hudson. Col. 

IN PRODUCTION 

Alleghany Frontier — Formerly Pennsyl- 
vania Uprising: based on The First 

Rebel, by Neil Swanson: ten years 

before Battle of Lexington; John 
Wayne. RKO 

All This and Heaven Too — Novel by 
Balakaika — Play by Eric Maschwitz; 

Nelson Eddy, Ilona Massey. MGM 

Bright Victory — Texas oil fields; Freddie 

Bartholomew, Jackie Cooper. Univ. 

Career Man — Script by James Hilton: 

John Garfield. Ann Sheridan. Warner 

Cat and the Canary — Bob Hope, Paulette 

Goddard: released 9-8. Para. 

Crump At Oxford — Laurel and Hardy. U.A. 

Dancing Co-ed — Fred Astaire. Eleanor 

Powell. MGM 

Day At the Circus — Marx Brothers. MGM 

Disputed Passage — Novel by Lloyd Doug- 
las; Dorothy Lamour, Akim Tamiroff ; 
autumn release; released 10-27. Para. 

Drums Along the Mohawk — Novel by 
Walter Edmonds; Henry Fonda, Claud- 
ette Colbert: released 1 1-24. 20th-Fox 

First Love — Deanna Durbin, Spring By- 

ington, Eugene Pallette. Univ. 

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew 
— Juvenile story by Margaret Sidney 
Lothrop. Coi 

Gone W iih the W.nd — Novel by Mar- 
garet M.tchell: Leslie Howard. Vivien 
Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havil- 
Knd. MGM 

Here I Am a Stranger — McCall magazine 
story by Gordon Hillman; father and 
son; college; released 9-29. 20tr-Fox 

Hollywood Cavalcade — Alice Faye; re- 

leased 8-19, ' 20th-Fox 

Housekeeper’s Daughter — Novel by Don- 
ald Henderson Clark. U.A 


Hunchback of Notre Dame — Novel by 
Hugo: Charles Laughton, Maureen 

O’Hara, Walter Hampden. Sir Cecil 
Hardwicke, Edmond O'Brien, Minna 
Gombell. RKO 

Intermezzo — Original screen play by John 

Van Duten. U.A. 

Irish Luck — Frankie Darro; Sheila Darcy, 

Dick Purcell. Mono. 

Light That Failed — Novel by Kipling; 

Ronald Colman, Muriel Angelus. Ida 
Lupino. Para. 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — Con- 
tinues adventures of Mr. Deeds: Jean 
Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains. 

Guy Kibbee, Eugene Pallete; released 


September. Col. 

Ninotschka — Greta Garbo. MGM 

Northwest Passage — Novel by Kenneth 
Roberts: Spencer Tracy, Wallace Beery, 

Robert Taylor. MGM 

Our Leading Citizen — Bob Burns, Susan 

Hayward; released 8-11. Para. 

Our Neighbors the Carters — Frank Crav- 
en, Genevieve Tobin, Edmund Lowe. Para. 

Prison Surgeon — Walter Connolly. Col. 

Rebecca — Novel by Daphne Du Maurier; 

production begins June. U.A. 

Ruler of the Seas — Epic of sail vs. steam; 

released 11-24. Para. 

Seventeen — Novel by Tarkington; Jackie 

Cooper, Betty Field, Otto Kruger. Para. 

Star-Maker — Semi-biography of Gus Ed- 
wards; released 8-25. Para. 

The Rains Came — Novel by Louis Brom- 

field ; released 10-27. 20th-Fox 

Thunder Afloat — Marine chasers in World 

War; Wallace Beery, Chester Morris. MGM 

20.000 Years In Sing Sing — Story by 

Warden Lawes: John Garfield. Warner 


We Are Not Alone — Novel by Hilton. Warner 

FUTURE FILMS 

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Play by Robert 

Sherwood: Raymond Massey. RKO 

A Call on the President — Story by Da- 
mon Runyon; Lewis Stone. MGM 

American School Teacher — Bob Burns; 

production to start in June. RKO 

And It All Came True — Novel by Brom- 

field: James Stewart. Ann Sheridan. Warner 
Fighting 69th — Pat O'Brien as Father 

Duffy. Warner 

Forgive Us Our Trespasses — Novel by 
Lloyd Douglas; John Garfield, Fay 
Bainter. Warner 

House Across the Bay — Play by Myles 

Connolly; Joan Bennett. U.A. 


Invisible Stripes — Story by Warden Lawes 
and Jonathan Finn; stigma attached to 
released prisoners. Warner 

Life and Melodies of Victor Herbert. Para. 
Stranger at Home — Life of Hans Chris- 
tian Andersen. U.A. 

Life of Dr. Ehrlich — Edward G. Robin- 
son. Warner 

A Modern Cinderella — Novel by James 

M. Cane; Charles Boyer, Irene Dunne. Univ. 
Rebecca — Novel by Daphne Du Maurier. U.A. 
Sea Hawk — Novel by Sabatini; Errol 
Flynn, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Basil Rath- 
bone. Warner 

Spirit of Knute Rockne — John Payne. Warner 
Tombstone — Arizona Frontier; Wyatt 
Earp; Errol Flynn, Olivia dc Havil- 
land. Warner 

Vigil in the Night — Novel by A. J. 

Cronin. RKO 

EXHIBIT PLAN SUCCESSFUL 

(Continued from page 13) 
three states who have visited Cleveland 
since the inception of the plan, have 
asked that it be sent to their libraries. 

This, then, is the story of the growth 
of an idea; it is also a story of how 
faith ultimately comes into its own, 
for it was the faith and help given to 
the growing idea, even when untried, 
vague and nebulous, that resulted in the 
MGM connection with this new im- 
petus given to book-film cooperation. 


HOLLYWOOD DOG 
TRAINING SCHOOL 

Carl Spitz, Owner 
Fritz Bache, Manager 


Phone 12350 Riverside Drive 

North Holly. 1262 No. Hollywood, Calif. 


WE IV EVER CLOSE 




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All Tracks — 9 a.m. Daily 
CALIENTE SUNDAY 
We Pay Track Odds — All Tracks 
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Bonded Liquor Exclusively 


Open 24 Hours a Day RAIN or SHINE 


Only 10 minutes from Hollywood, then a comfortable 12-minute 
boat ride to the REX. Continuous water taxi service To and From 
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25c ROUND TRIP — PARK ON PIER 

Cuisine by Henri Supervision “Hy” Hoff mart ' yli 


Anchored in Calm Ulaters off SHNTR IDONICR 



JULY 22, 1939 


PAGE FIFTEEN 


IS 

1 

SIS 







A PLEA AND A PLAY 

By 

WELFORD BEATON 

Tells why too much dialogue is box- 
office poison, and demonstrates the man- 
ner in which it can be reduced. 

An invaluable little volume for all 
students of the screen. 


PRICE: 

ONE DOLLAR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 
6513 Hollywood Boulevard 
Hollywood, California 


20 CENTS 


SPECTATOR 

Every Other Week Edited by WELFORD BEATON 

Fourteenth Year Los Angeles, California, December 9, 1939 Vol. 14 — No. 17 


Exhibitors Should Note Names of 
Those Who Make Box-Office Films 

Without Picture Brains Behind 
Them Stars Soon Would Lose Out 

Once More We Hear The Old Plaint 
That the Public Wants New Faces 

Destry Rides Again ★ Four Wives ★ The Night of Nights 

REVIEWED: The Great Victor Herbert ★ Joe and Ethel Turp Call On the President 

(Page 6) The Cisco Kid and the Lady A Escape to Paradise 

Private Detective ★ The Big Guy 



A WORD WITH EXHIBITORS 

HEN block booking is abolished and production 
and exhibition divorced, the exhibitor is going to 
be the biggest man in filmdom. He will be in a posi- 
tion to buy only the pictures he feels will please his 
patrons, will buy them only after they are made, and 
to get those he wants he no Icnqer will have to buy 
others he does not want and which he knows will not 
pay their way when shown in his theatre. 

The effect of the new order of things will be to put 
an end to the mass making of pictures which are sold 
before they are made. Each will be an individual pro- 
duction which will be sold on its own merits, and the 
people who will be the most successful in meeting the 
market requirements are the present associate pro- 
ducers and producer-directors. No longer will an ex- 
hibitor buy a picture solely because it is made by 
Metro or Fox. He can buy in an open market, and in 
making his selections he will be influenced only by 
their entertainment qualities and not by the trade- 
marks they bare. 

Should Place Reliance on Names 

But the exhibitor will face one difficulty — that of 
being unable to see every picture made before de- 
termining which ones he wishes to show in his house. 
Eventually, in making his selections he will have to 
depend to a large extent on names of individual pro- 
ducers. For instance, if he buys a picture made by 
David Selznick — a picture he sees before he buys it 
and was influenced in purchasing solely by the pic- 
ture's merits and without regard for the name of the 
maker — and if such picture makes money for him, 
he may feel reasonably safe in buying another Selz- 
nick production sight-unseen, and in keeping on buy- 
ing them as long as they prove profitable attractions 
for his house. 

It seems to me it would be a wise thing for exhibit- 
ors to begin now to note the names of those who make 
the pictures at present showing and those which will 
be shown before the new order is ushered in. When 
a picture does a big business for an exhibitor he 
should make a record of the names of the individual 
producer, the director, the writer. Perhaps he at- 
tributes the success of the picture to the popularity 
of its star or stars, but he must take into account that 
if its producer, director and writer had fallen down 
on their jobs, the star names in themselves would not 
prove strong enough to account for the profitable 
showing. 


No player makes himself a star. Back of him must 
be picture brains. A company trademark cannot 
make a star. Metro's lion has no picture brains. His 
reputation was made by people on the studio pay- 
roll, by producers, directors, writers, technicians who 
provide the player with the vehicles which carry him 
to stardom and keep him there. The names of these 
people are the ones exhibitors should remember. 
They, not the stars, can make or break an exhibitor. 

In the d ays when traveling companies provided the 
dramatic entertainment in cities which get it now only 
in motion pictures, the fact that it was a Frohman 
production or that the play was by Booth Tarkington 
was sufficient to bring money to the box-office, when 
no famous star name headed the cast. Film theatre 
owners can derive as much assurance from the names 
of Hollywood producers, directors and writers if they 
acquaint themselves with the names on the credit 
lists of the pictures which make money for them. 

Exhibitors Should Note the Names 

Exhibitors, should keep in mind the fact that no 
player ever made himself or herself a star, nor has 
his or her box-office pull been retained solely by the 
star. Only good pictures make stars and only more 
good pictures sustain stardom. For instance, Gary 
Cooper's name will draw paying audiences to film 
theatres, but if he appeared in two poor pictures in a 
row, he no longer would be the box-office magnet 
he is now. Gary is a great star, first, because he 
knows nothing about acting; and, secondly, because 
he has a personality of practically universal appeal. 
He has maintained his star status because he has been 
fortunate in being starred in pictures made by pro- 
ducers intelligent enough to realize both his possibili- 
ties and his limitations, and to employ writers and 
directors who can develope his possibilities and keep 
him within his limits. 

It is important, therefore, that an exhibitor who 
makes money with a Cooper picture or a picture with 
any other star, should keep a record of the names 
of the individual producer, the writer and the director, 
and if the three names appear in the list of credits 
of another picture, he may be sure it will please his 
patrons even though there be no outstanding star 
names in the cast. Each of the three names will con- 
vey a certain amount of assurance even when appear- 
ing with two others with which the exhibitor is not 
familiar. But if the exhibitor keeps a carefully com- 
posed list of the producers, directors and writers 



HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR, published bi-weekly at Los Angeles. Calif., by Hollywood Spectator Co., 6513 Hollywood Blvd.; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price, $5 the year; two 
years, $8' foreign, $6. Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter, September 23. 1938, at the Post Office at Los Angeles, Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3, 1879. 

PAGE TWO HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


whose names are connected with successful pictures 
he has shown, he will find himself in a position to buy 
his attractions with more assurance of box-office suc- 
cess fhan if he is governed in his selections only by 
the names of the stars who head the casts. 

When the exhibitor no longer is forced to buy his 
pictures blindly, the welfare of the entire film industry 
will be in his hands. He should start now to prepare 
himself to use his power intelligently. 

* * * 


CERTAINLY ACTIVE TREE BUILDER 
JCCORDING to Hedda Hopper, as recorded in 
** her daily column, Nick Kaltenstadler, chief nursery- 
man for 20th Century-Fox studio, "in his twenty-four 
years career has built more than one million trees for 
use in the movies." That means that Nick, working 
Sunday, holidays, and all the rest of the days during 
the nearly guarter-century, has managed to turn 
out each day 133 trees and part of another one. If 
the Administration at Washington is sincere in its 
effort to cut down the expense of running the country, 
it would fire all the employees in the reforestration 
division and hire Nick to do the job alone. But I think 
he should be allowed to take time out on an occasion- 
al Sunday and certainly on the Fourth of July. 


DIRECTORS SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL 
MAJORITY of pictures make obvious the careless- 
ness with which they are shot. To illustrate, take 
these scenes from "Day-Time Wife," a recent Century 
production directed by Gregory Ratoff: Eight or 

ten people are grouped on the floor of a room in a 
home which reflects wealth and culture. Conversa- 
tion is general. Two of the people detach themselves 
from the group, move less than a dozen steps away, 
indulge in intimate conversation the others in the 
room should not hear, yet the two speak loudly enough 
to be heard all over the room, and not a sound of 
another voice is heard. It is as if the remainder of the 
group had been stricken dumb when the two stepped 
to one side. It is easy to see how the blunder was 
committed. Ratoff directed the long shot showing 
the group as a whole and let us hear the general chat- 
ter. Later, perhaps the next day or the next week, 
the director shot a close-up of the two, and overlook- 
ed entirely its relation to what had preceded it. 

If the close shot had been made intelligently and 
with regard for its place in the seguence as a whole, 
the two would have spoken in tones too low to be 
heard by those who should not hear what was being 
said, and as background for the scene there would 
have been the continued chatter of those still group- 
ed so near the two in the intimate scene. The fault is 
a freguent one. It is a rare picture in which you do 
not see it. A sister-idiocy is that which shows only one 
couple talking on a crowded dance floor, the rest 
silent, stoney-faced, expressing animation only with 
their feet, while the two principals talk loudly, the 
lack of the mob's reaction to what it cannot help 
hearing proving that those who compose it are stoney- 


faced because they are stone-deaf. 

Most directors seem to overlook the important fact 
that it is the picture as a whole the public sees, not 
a succession of unrelated scenes. When at a fashion- 
able function two people are shot in a close-up, di- 
rectors should not give us the impression all the rest 
of the guests were told to shut up. 

* * * 

F. HUGH HERBERT WRITES A BOOK 

0 NE of my oldest Hollywood friendships has been 
'“'that with F. Hugh Herbert, writer of screen plays 
and books. We never agree on any topic we discuss, 
and our years of friendship have been seasoned with 
an unending series of most entertaining quarrels. I 
know he is nutty and he thinks I am. It is with extreme 
reluctance, therefore, and a degree of chagrin, that 
I am compelled to admit that his latest book, "The 
Revolt of Henry" (G. P. Putman's Sons, N. Y.) , is most 
entertaining reading. It is an intimate story of a 
mismated married couple, a wife with a nitwit per- 
sonality, a husband with a murder complex he does 
not use. It is amusing, human, moves along briskly. 
It should be read by any producers in the market for 
a domestic comedy. 

* * * 

SORRY, BUT WE DIFFER WITH HEDDA 
DECENTLY in her syndicated column my good friend, 
**' Hedda Hopper, takes motion picture producers to 
task for their failure to develope talent to still the 
clamor of the public for new faces on the screen, 
and proceeds to tell the producers what she would 
do if it were up to her to set things right. She would 
have all the studios join in the establishment and 
maintenance of a little theatre in which aspirants for 
screen honors could "work steadily and develope 
craftsmanship." 

Hedda's idea would be an excellent one if Holly- 
wood were going into the business of producing plays 
for Broadway theatres, but as Hollywood's business is 
one of making motion pictures, the cure she suggests 
would make the patient sicker than it is now. The 
illusion that the screen went stage when it went talkie 
is responsible, directly and indirectly, for every ill 
the film industry now is suffering. A course in stage 
acting will shorten the career of any newcomer to the 
screen. The leading film box-office players are now 
and always will be those who have had no stage experi- 
ence and those who have forgotten what they learned 
on the stage. 

Get Back to First Principle 

CJ I agree, however, w ith Hedda that something radi- 
cal should be done to buck up film box-offices. It can 
be done by a return to screen fundamentals — the 
recognition of the camera as the story-telling medium, 
which automatically would reduce the excessive talk- 
ing now poisoning the box-office. If- an institution is 
to be established for the teaching of screen technique, 
it should be done for prospective writers who never 
have seen a stage play and from the first should be 


DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE THREE 


taught to write their stories in pictures, not in dia- 
logue. 

Writing stories to fit stars is another evil which has 
a distressing effect on film box-offices. Hollywood 
now proceeds upon the assumption that the star is 
more important than the story. It would take a long 
time to get the same idea out of the heads of those 
who pay to see screen entertainment, but the film 
industry has a lot of time left in which to make pic- 
tures, and it could be done. When writing a screen 
story, the story should be the only idea in the writer's 
head; and in casting it, the suitability of players for 
the various parts should be the only idea in the pro- 
ducer's head. Never should he distort a well written 
characterization to fit the individuality of a star. 
There are available in Hollywood plenty of people to 
fit any part a writer can create. 

Public's Capacity for Friendship 

CJ And another point upon which I differ with my 
friend Hedda, is that old, bewhiskered plaint that the 
public constantly is clamoring for new faces. Nothing 
could be more absurd. It is contrary to all human 
instincts Not until v/e w : sh to see only strangers 
around our tables when we are giving dinner parties, 
will we wish to see only strangers on the screens of 
the picture houses we patronize. The greatest divi- 
dends life pays are the agreeable human contacts we 
make, and the richest man is he who sees friendly 
faces every way he looks. 

The trouble with Hollywood is that it tries to con- 
centrate our friendship on a small number of stars. 
Our appetite for friendship is greater than the supply 
of stars given us to appease it, and our capacity for 
retaining it is greater than the producers realize. 
Louella Parsons writes that every time on her personal 
appearance tour she mentions an oldtime star, his or 
her name is greeted with a storm of applause. There 
are scores of old faces the public would welcome, 
and scores among newcomers which would be wel- 
comed when they had appeared often enough to form 
friendships. Casting parts solely with regard for the 
specifications of the writers, and distorting none to 
fit a certain player, soon would give the film box- 
office the upswing it needs so badly. 

* * * 

DOGS AS PICTURE ASSETS 

MOST homes have dogs in them. As I write at the 
moment, my spaniel is curled in an easy chair not 
far from mine. He contributes greatly to the domes- 
tic atmosphere of the room, gives it a touch a human 
would not give. If it were a motion picture scene, 
the effect of his presence would be the same, would 
strike a responsive chord in the emotions of fhe aud- 
ience, for those who love dogs greatly outnumber 
those who do not. Yet it is seldom we see dogs on 
the screen solely to dress sets, dogs which enter or 
leave a scene at will, which behave on the screen as 
they do in your home and mine. Ask a producer abou+ 
it and he will tell you dogs are nuisances when scenes 
are being shot. That is a poor excuse. Having to do 


anything is more or less a nuisance. The present con- 
dition of film box-offices would suggest the wisdom of 
overcoming any nuisance which could be transformed 
info something to add to a picture's drawing power. 
And the greater use of dogs in dressing sets would 
achieve that end. 

* * * 

STAR MATERIAL BEING OVERLOOKED 

WHILE viewing the performance of Edna Mae Oliver 
'' in "Drums Along the Mohawk," I thought how 
easily she could have become one of today's leading 
box-office stars if any one of our big producers had 
had brains enough, six or seven years ago when she 
first came to the screen, to realize her potentialities 
and groom her for stardom. At that time the Spec- 
tator urged her claim to recognition as a possible 
star. One of the factors contributing to the present 
box-office slump is the ridiculous contention of pro- 
ducers thaf the public demands only young and beau- 
tiful feminine sfars. The public demands an oppor- 
tunity to laugh, and anyone who can cause it to sprin- 
kle laughter throughout the showing of a feature pic- 
ture, always will pull people into film theatres. Neither 
youth nor age has box-office value on its own account; 
nor will the perfection in acting technique give a 
player prominence on the screen in the same measure 
as it will bring him honors as a stage actor. Miss 
Oliver came to pictures from the stage, bringing with 
her that inner something the stage could not use, but 
which could have made her an outstanding screen 
star. And there are others like her, people who play 
even smaller parts in pictures because producers are 
not equipped mentally to appreciate their possi- 
bilities. 

* * * 

COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF FILMS 

/1UITE an extraordinary book is "The Rise of the 
V American Film," by Lewis Jacobs (Harcourt, Brace 
and Company, $4.50). It is a mammoth work (585 type 
pages, 48 pages of illustrations) and has a wealth of 
informafion never before assembled between covers. 
It fades in on 1896 — and fades out on 1939. Its scope 
is set forth tersely on the jacket: 

"This is the first comprehensive and critical history 
of fhe American movie as a commodity, as an art, and 
as a social agency. It is distinguished by an original 
approach and unusual form. The author traces the 
film from ifs commercial beginnings in 1896 to the 
present time, investigating and evaluating it as an in- 
dustry, as an artistic medium, and as a social force. 
The fi nancial structures of American film commerce 
are charted; the discoveries and contributions signifi- 
cant to the growth of film technique are analyzed; the 
effect of the changing times upon the content of 
American movies and the movie's content upon the 
changing times, are revealed for the first time in an 
examination of hundreds of films since the turn of the 
century. The book stresses the inter-relationship and 
contributions of each of these three major factors 
which are responsible for the American motion pic- 


PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


ture's phenomenal rise: the business man, the scien- 
tist, the artist." 

The only quarrel I have with the above statements 
is that the book is not a "critical history of the Ameri- 
can movie ... as an art." It accepts the talking pic- 
ture as the ultimate in the screen's development as a 
medium of entertainment, and does not concern itself 
with the fact that when the film industry ceased mak- 
ing silent pictures it abandoned the art which cre- 
ated it and gave us a bastardized product of a mis- 
alliance between film ignorance and the sound device. 
But the book is none the less one which should be in 
the library of everyone interested in th physical his- 
tory of the screen. 

* * * 

DEAF SUBSCRIBER AGREES WITH US 

TELL a director a picture he made was harmed by 
1 the manner in which his players almost shouted their 
lines, and he will tell you the fault lies in the hands of 
theatre proiectionists who step up the sound beyond 
the point of its being easy to listen to. The Spectator 
always has contended it is not the volume of the 
sound which irritates an audience, that the irritating 
quality in too loudly read lines cannot be eliminated 
even if the sound be stepped down to the volume 
of a whisper. From Joseph R. Adams, a Des Moines, 
Iowa, subscriber to the Spectator, comes support of 
its contention. "I want to tell you of one of the many 
things about which you are correct," writes Mr. 
Adams. "I am hard of hearing and to some extent 
rely upon lip reading to follow what the actors on the 
screen are saying. Only when they talk in loud tones 
can I hear everything clearly. But when two actors, 
standing close to one another and not quarreling, 
speak so l<3ud I hear them distinctly, I know they are 
talking more loudly than there is reason for, and I do 
not like it. I did not know why until I read what you 
wrote about it not being possible to take out what ir- 
ritates me, even by lowering the tone when the pic- 
ture is being shown. I thought this would interesi 
you. Tell the people who make the pictures that even 
deaf people don't like to be shouted at." 

* * * 

WE SUGGEST AN AWARD 

THIS being the open season for Academy award 
1 suggestions, I would like to make one. It is that 
one of the largest Oscars should be presented to the 
director who first shows us a football coach address- 
ing his squad with his back to the camera and facing 
his listeners. Or it might be awarded to any director 
who stages a huddle of any sort in which all the people 
in it are not looking at the back of a person making 
a speech to them. 

* * * 

"LADIES FIRST" A GOOD RULE 

f ) F COURSE, if I were an actor I no doubt would 

v behave as actors behave, but, not being an actor, 

I feel if I were one and were a male star co-starring 
with a female star, I would insist upon her getting first 
billing. Possibly it is because I am old-fashioned that 


it gripes me when I see such billing as "Robert Taylor 
and Greer Garson" in something or other. It gives 
me the feeling that Bob is guilty of displaying bad 
taste. And it is a safe bet that outside Hollywood, 
where provisions in stars' contracts are unknown and 
the rules governing credits also are unknown, there 
are a few million other old-fashioned people who 
would be pleased more with Bob if the billing were 
"Greer Garson and Robert Taylor." Social conven- 
tions, you know, have some box-office value, too. 

* * * 

MENTAL MEANDERINGS 

TIGHT-FORTY-FIVE A.M.; in a I awn chair, pad on 
^knee, the Spaniel lying at my right, the Peke in 
front of me, my pipe drawing nicely, not a blessed 
idea in my head, the bottom of the column a long 
distance away. ... A pause while a bumblebee, built 
like a battleship, landed on the wrist of my sweater, 
applauded me with his hind feet, continued on his 
wandering course as if trying to baffle any submarines 
which might be lurking underneath him. Do not see 
many bumblebees, but there are a lot of the honey 
kind zooming from flower to flower a few feet from 
me. . . . Started the day by helping Tom, the man- 
about-the-place, put the last of the firewood in the 
back of the garage where the winter rains will not 
reach it. There is a lot of comfort and illuminated 
warmth for Mrs. Spectator and me stored away in 
the blocks of wood which on winter nights will achieve 
their destiny in the living-room fireplace, recreated 
warmth of the sun they absorbed during the decades 
they were reaching for the sky. ... A few nights ago 
a friend dropped in, made directly for the radio, ex- 
plaining he wanted to get a Berlin broadcast, and in a 
minute he had it, as clear as if from a local station. 
We have had the set for three years, and had no 
idea it could perform like that. Since then I have 
been exploring the world, but swore off last night to 
relieve the strain on Mrs. Spectator's nervous system. 
. . . Sixteen years ago, on the night the station first 
went on the air, I stepped to the KNX microphone 
and said, "This is KNX, the voice of Hollywood," and 
the phrase became a permanent announcement. . . . 
Our rural district has taken on city ways; as I was 
leaving a Van de Kamp bakery a young fellow entered, 
attempted a hold-up and was killed by a policeman's 
bullet — just a newspaper item for a day, but endless 
sorrow in some home. . . . Our apricot trees have 
laudable habits; early in the spring they sprout leaves 
and blossoms, then bend their branches beneath the 
weight of golden fruit; follows the summer during 
which they provide generous and welcome shade, and 
not until now, with Christmas so near, are the last 
leaves falling to give right of way to the rays and 
warmth of the sun without interfering shade, while on 
our cellar shelves the gold of their fruit shines from 
glass containers. . . . Winter nights are cold in the 
Valley along which our dirt road runs; I wear long 
flannel nightshirts and don't care a gol darn who 
knows it. 


DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE FIVE 


Wkat iate OheJ £cok £ike 


Western Moves Up 
To Class A Dignity 


DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. Universal 


Producer 

Director 

Story 

Photography 
Art director 
Musical director 
Musical score 


Joe Pasternak 
George Marshall 
Felix Jackson 
Hal Mohr 
Jack Otterson 
Charles Previn 
Frank Skinner 


Cast: Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Mischa 
Auer, Charles Winninger, Una Merkel, Brian 
Donlevy, Irene Hervey, Allen Jenkins, Billy 
Gilbert, Samuel Hinds, Jack Carson, Warren 
Hvmer. 


S TANDARD Western raised by star 
names to the dignity of Class A 
rating. As far back as June, 1926, in 
the full flush of its youthful optimistic 
enthusiasm, the Spectator announced in 
determined looking type that Westerns 
should be the most important pictures 
on the programs of every studio, that 
the biggest stars should appear in them. 
Universal seemingly has come around 
finally to the Spectator’ s way of think- 
ing. It dignifies Westerns by giving us 
Marlene Dietrich and Jimmie Stewart 
in one of them, and at the same time 
takes the dignity out of Marlene and 
shoots her up to an important place 
on the box-office list. She certainly will 
be in demand after Destry Rides Again 
is shown generally. And Westerns will 
be in demand for the biggest houses. 

Joe Pasternak, one of Hollywood's 
most gifted producers, was cautious in 
making his first Western. To be on the 
safe side, he put into it a little of every- 
thing, and a lot of some of the things, 
wh'ch had been in every picture of the 
sort made prior to his. T hat is one 
weakness of his first attempt — he keeps 
his screen too crowded. And on the 
whole it is too noisy, there being little 
of the stern-silent-man of the West feel- 
ing in it. Charley Winninger’s voice be- 
comes hard to listen to, and Sam 
Hinds’s cud of chewing tobacco finally 
becomes disgusting, even though it is 
silent. 


Makes Good Box-Office 

But what matters most about Joe's 
picture is that it is good box-office. 
Marlene Dietrich's telling performance 
will come as no surprise to those who 
could see the promise behind her previ- 
ous characterizations, and Jimmie Stew- 
art's superb performance will not sur- 
prise anyone who has watched his steady 
progress to recognition as one of the 
screen’s most brilliant actors. Marlene's 
singing is one of the most entertaining 
features of the picture. Una Merkel, 
always one of the screen’s most depend- 
able players, adds strength to the cast 


even though her role does not give her 
a chance to realize all her possibilities. 
Mischa Auer, Brian Donlevy, Allen 
Jenkins, Irene Hervey, Virginia Brissac, 
Billy Gilbert are among others who 
contribute to the entertainment quality 
of the picture. 

Jack Otterson’s skill as an art director 
is responsible for the authentic Western 
atmosphere his settings reflect. His sa- 
loon is one of the most colorful yet to 
appear in a Western picture, the elab- 
orate bar with its ornate carving being 
reminiscent of the baroque design of 
the time of the story. Hal Mohr’s pho- 
tography does full justice to all the pic- 
torial possibilities of everything at 
which his camera was aimed. Felix 
Jackson's story was made into a virile 
screen play by him, Gertrude Purcell 
and Henry Myers, and the three are to 
be credited with one of the liveliest 
scripts ever handed a director. George 
Marshall makes the most of its possi- 
bilities. 

Even though it is full of shooting 
and sudden death, you may take the 
children. Vhey are used to such things 
in Westerns. Study groups should note 
how Hinds's constant tobacco chewing 
ruins his characterization . even though 
it was designed to give individuality to 
it. Exhibitors can promise a new Die- 
trich. one of the most dynamic Western 
heroines we have had. 


The Great Herbert 


Makes Andy Great 

THE GREAT VICTOR HERBERT, Paramount 
Producer-director Andrew L. Stone 

Screen play Russel Crouse, Robert Lively 
Based on a story by: Robert Lively, Andrew 
L. Stone. 

Music supervisor Phil Boutelje 

Music Scorer Arthur Lange 

Musical numbers staged by LeRoy Prinz 

Director of photography Victor Milner, A.S.C 
Art direction Hans Dreier. Ernst Fegte 

Costumes Edith HecH 

Editor James Smith 

Sound recording Hugo Grenzbach, John Cope 
Interior decorations A. E. Frei denar'. 

All music Victor Herbert 

Cast: Allan Jones, Mary Martin, Walter Con- 
nolly, Lee Bowman, Susanna Foster, Judith 
Barrett, Jerome Cowan, John Garrick, Pierre 
Watkin, Richard Tucker, Hal K. Dawson, Em- 
mett Vogan, Mary Currier, James Finlayson. 


£ XCELLENT entertainment. A pic- 
ture more about Herbert's music than 
about Herbert himself, but such music is 
ideal for screen entertainment when re- 
produced as we have it here, and given 
additional value as entertainment by 
being made part of the entertaining 
story. A picture which consists so large- 
ly of music and concerns chiefly three 


characters who sing, must be left to 
Dr. Ussher to review (page 11). To 
my non-critical music ear, every note 
sung or bar played was a delight, no 
matter what Bruno thinks about it. 

Twelve or thirteen years ago a young 
fellow came to me with some stories he 
had written for the screen. He never 
had been inside a studio, and he asked 
me if I would read his material and tell 
him if in my judgement he could do 
anything useful if he did get into one. 

I saw promise in his stories and in what 
he said about his screen ambitions. I 
forget now how he managed it, but he 
made a picture, and in my review I 
praised it and predicted a glowing film 
career for the young man. But he got 
nowhere in Hollywood, made a living 
for some years at something else, fi- 
nally came back to the film capital and 
again tackled pictures. The young fel- 
low’s name was Andrew L. Stone. 

Andrew L. Stone Arrives 

•J A week ago last Monday Andy Stone 
added his name in large, indelible let- 
ters to the scroll of those who have 
won important places in the film world. 
Assigned by his chief, William LeBaron, 
to do a picture about Victor Herbert, 
he outlined a story, collaborated with 
Robert Lively in writing it, approved 
the screen play of Lively and Russell 
Crouse, produced it, directed it, has 
given to the world one of the most en- 
gaging bits of screen entertainment it 
has had in years. He has made other 
pictures, but none as big and fine as 
The Great Victor Herbert. 

Revealing a sense of drama, of human 
values, of characterization and music 
appreciation, Andy makes playthings 
of our emotions and puts us in debt 
to him for a rare cinematic treat. Es- 
pecially fortunate was he in the selection 
of his cast, every member of which re- 
sponds to his direction in a most capa- 
ble manner. From Allan Jones we could 
expect only satisfactory acting and su- 
perlative singing, from Walter Connol- 
ly another of those intelligent and com- 
pelling performances which add strength 
to all the pictures in which he is cast. 
Two girls make most impressive first 
appearances, Mary Martin and Susanna 
Foster. Mary has the ingratiating per- 
sonality essential to screen success and 
the ability to express it intelligently. 
Susanna is destined to develope rare act- 
ing ability, and could become a screen 
favorite even without the aid of her fine 
singing voice. Lee Bowman, Judith 
Barrett, Jerome Cowan, in fact, all the 
others who names appear in the cast are 
to be credited with fine performances. 

Technicians Deserve Credit 

<J Technically, the picture is up to the 
best Hollywood standard. Victor Mil- 
ner’s photography is of fine quality and 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


brings out all the values of the artistic 
settings designed by Hans Dreier and 
Ernst Fegte, as well as the beautiful 
costumes contributed by Edith Head 
and the interior decorations by A. E. 
Freudeman. The staging of the musical 
numbers by LeRoy Prinz played a large 
part in making the production so visu- 
ally attractive, and credit is due James 
Smith for film editing which produces 
such smooth progression of scenes. 

Entertainment for everyone, particu- 
larly for one who enjoys a rare combin- 
ation of music and drama. Motion pic- 
appreciation classes should note the 
adroit manner in which the musical 
numbers are woven into the whole fabric 
without breaking the continuity of aud- 
ience interest in the story. Lacking in 
outstanding star names, exhibitors will 
find it necessary to get behind it energet- 
ically, but it will more than make good 
all the advance exploitation given it. 

Too Many Wives , 

Too Much Footage 

FOUR WIVES, Warner Bros. -First National 
Executive producer Hal B. Wallis 

Associate producer Henry Blanke 

Director Michael Curtiz 

Screen play: Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, 
and Maurice Hanline. 

Suggested by the book, "Sister Act," by Fan- 
nie Hurst. 

Musical director Leo F. Forbstein 

Director of photography Sol Polito, A.S.C. 

Art director John Hughes 

Film editor Ralph Dawson 

Orchestral arrangements: Hugo Friedhofer, 

Ray Heindorf. 

Cast: Claude Rains, Jeffrey Lynn, Eddie Al- 
bert, May Robson, Frank McHugh, Dick Foran, 
Henry O'Nei'L Vera Lewis, John Qualen, Pris- 
cilla Lane, Rosemary Lane, Lola Lane, Gale 
Page. 

r OO many wives. Driving four abreast 
from one end of a picture to the other 
and keeping the pace even, seems to have 
been a job too tough for a talented 
bunch of drivers even when under the 
guidance of Hal Wallis and one of film- 
dom’s really great associate producers, 
Henry Blanke. The picture is not a 
total loss. It will hold your attention in 
a mild sort of way, but it is stretched 
out too far for what is in it. A picture 
gets pretty thin when about sixty min- 
utes of real story value is stretched out 
to cover 110 minutes of running time. 
This one becomes somewhat confusing. 
As a reviewer, I do not strain my atten- 
tion to keep abreast of what is happen- 
ing on the screen. I feel it is the duty 
of the picture to tell its story so clearly 
no straining is necessary to follow it. 

This picture tries to keep our interest 
divided evenly between four couples and 
the spirit of the deceased husband of 
one of the eight people. As I review it 
mentally to determine what to say about 
it, I find myself rather muddled. To 


follow closely the sequence of compli- 
cations required more mental concentra- 
tion than I think one should be asked to 
exert when viewing something which 
he seeks as mental relaxation. 

Direction Could Be Better 

<]J While my general impression is that 
the picture is pleasant entertainment but 
somewhat too long, it is not as good 
as it would have been if Mike Curtiz 
had given it the high quality direction 
of which he long since has proven him- 
self capable. In one scene, for instance, 
the four daughters wake up to the fact 
that Father s Day has passed and not 
one of them remembered it. They rush 
to their father with words of contrite 
endearment. The father stands in the 
middle of the room with his face to the 
camera; the four daughters stand in a 
row behind him, their faces to the cam- 
era, while they tell his back how sorry 
they are. It beats me how such absurdly 
distorted grouping can get into a major 
studio production. 

However, there are a number of ex- 
cellent performances in Four Wives. The 
old standbys repeat the successes achiev- 
ed when they appeared together prev- 
iously. Eddie Albert reveals talent which 
should carry him a long way. And the 
four girls, of course, are charming. The 
production, photography, sound, and 
film editing are of high standard. 

Not up to the standard set by Four 
Daughters, but it has its points. Of little 
interest to children, but all right for the 
rest of the family. 

Opens With Drink, 
Ends With Death 

THE NIGHT OF NIGHTS, Paramount 
Producer George Arthur 

Director Lewis Milestone 

Original screen play Donald Ogden Stewart 
Photography Leo Tover, A.S.C. 

Art direction Flans Dreier, Ernst Fegte 

Editor Doane Harrison 

Costumes Edith Flead 

Music score Victor Young 

Sound recording Gene Merritt, Don Johnson 
Interior decorations A. E. Freudeman 

Cast: Pat O'Brien, Olympe Bradna, Roland 

Young, Reginald Gardiner, George E. Stone, 
Murray Alper. 

ANDICAPPED by fundamental 
story weakness in that its success de- 
pends upon its ability to make us inter- 
ested in a wholly uninteresting charac- 
ter. We first see Pat O’Brien beginning 
a drunken spree before the opening of a 
Broadway show in which he stars with 
Roland Young. The two are plastered 
to the eyebrows as they make their first 
entrance when the show begins, and they 
behave so outrageously the curtain is 
rung down, the show is closed, the ca- 
reers of the two brought to an abrupt 
end. Pat’s wife, whom we do not see 
but who was to have her big chance 


in the show, leaves him, and there fol- 
lows a time lapse of twenty years. 

We next see Pat, morose, silent, sit- 
ting at a table in the Lambs Club, and 
a line of dialogue informs us that for 
the first five of the score of years he 
searched diligently but unsuccessfully 
for his wife, and for the remaining fif- 
teen apparently had been sitting at the 
table, a dead thing which still breathed 
and could mutter sentences. For the 
greater part of the footage he is that 
way, and he does not come to life even 
upon the arrival of his daughter, of 
whose existence he had been unaware 
until she was twenty years of age, when 
he learned also that his wife had died 
when the child was born. 

Technically a Good Job 

<J Donald Ogden Stewart had an idea 
buried in his original screen play, but it 
was not an idea upon which a satisfac- 
tory motion picture could be based. 
Everyone connected with its production 
is to be commended for his honest, sin- 
cere effort to turn out a thoughtful, 
entertaining bit of screen entertainment, 
but the attempt to keep us interested in 
a most uninteresting central character 
proves unsuccessful. In the first sequence 
we become disgusted with the man 
O'Brien plays, and during the remainder 
of the footage we become weary of him 
and indifferent to what the fates still 
may have in store for him. His death 
at the end leaves us unmoved. 

No fault can be found with Pat's en- 
actment of the role. His performance is 
really a brilliant one, but has to carry 
too much weight. Roland Young, al- 
ways the capable actor, also is excellent. 
A charming and talented young miss 
Olympe Bradna proves to be, one who 
soon should have a great screen follow- 
ing. George E. Stone, one of Holly- 
wood’s finest actors whom we do not 
see often enough: Reginald Gardiner, al- 
ways capable, and Murray Alper, also 
talented, round out the small but com- 
pletely competent cast. Lewis Mile- 
stone's direction is excellent, and none 
of the picture's weaknesses can be charg- 
ed to him. Artistic settings are provid- 
ed by Hans Dreier and Ernest Fegte, fine 
quality photography by Leo Tover, 
expert film editing bv Doane Harrison. 


Printing 


Mimeographing 

Multigra 

phing 

lypeing 



JEANNE EDWARDS 


1655 North Cherokee 


(at Hollywood Blvd.) 


HEmpstead 1969 



DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE SEVEN 


A big share of whatever satisfaction the 
picture will give will be due to the fine 
musical score by Victor Young and its 
meritorious recording by Soundmen 
Gene Merritt and Don Johnson. 

Technically a wholly creditable job. 
but it cannot be recommended as popu- 
lar entertainment. Not for children and 
I can see nothing in it for study groups. 
Gets it motivation from a drunken de- 
bauch and I never can see merit in 
drunkenness as a motivating factor in 
screen entertainment . 

Damon Runyon Story 
Is Highly Original 

JOE AND ETHEL TURP CALL ON 
THE PRESIDENT 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 

Producer Edgar Selwyn 

Director Robert B. Sinclair 

Screen play Melville Baker 

Based on a story by Damon Runyon 

Musical score Edward Ward, David Snell 
Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Director of photography Leonard Smith, A.S.C. 
Film editor Gene Ruggiero 

Cast: Ann Sothern, Lewis Stone, Walter Bren- 
nan, William Gargan, Marsha Hunt, Tom 
Neal, James Bush, Don Costello, Muriel Hutch 
ison. Jack Norton, Aldrich Bowker, Frederick 
Burton, A1 Shean, Robei-t Emmett O'Connor, 
Cliff Clark, Russell Hicks, Paul Everton, 

Charles Trowbridge. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
N ENT ER I AINING show results 
from the visit of Joe and Ethel Turp 
to the White House. The Damon Run- 
yon piece, adopted to the screen by Mel- 
ville Baker, is certainly a unique admix- 
ture of elements. It is at once a portrait 
of a slice of Americana and a sly com- 
mentary on national and international 
affairs, keeps two stories going at the 
same time, and presents strong contrasts 
in humor and poignancy. Whatever 
else may be said about Joe and Ethel 
Turp Call On the President, the film 
must be commended for high originality. 

That the Turps manage to see the 
president with such facility, having ap- 
pealed to his sense of humor, may seem 
a trifle far-fetched in retrospect, but it 
is made to seem plausible enough during 
the story’s unreeling. Of course, the 
naive Turps need not have visited the 
President at all: the Postmaster General 
would have done just as well. It all 
makes a good yarn, though, and the 
piece somehow does not invite dissection. 

Their Motive Worthy 

<| J he urgency of the couple’s trip to 
Washington is created by the predica- 
ment into which their mailman has got 
himself, having been discharged and ar- 
rested for destroying a special delivery 
letter. There are extenuating circum- 
stances, though, plead the Turps before 
the President, and to make the case fully 
known to His Honor, they start at the 


beginning, when Jim the mailman was 
a young fellow in love with a girl an- 
other fellow got. Their narration is 
embodied in filmic form, sometimes with 
their own voices accompanying the ac- 
tion, sometimes with the characters from 
the past taking over. 

It is a tale of much sentiment, of a 
love that endures into old age and leads 
the mailman to compose and deliver let- 
ters purported to be from the woman’s 
son, really a worthless fellow, in order 
that the old lady, an invalid, will be 
made happy. Some of the Turps' own 
tribulations are interwoven with the 
narration, an amusing episode being that 
in which an entertainer in pajamas is 
discovered in Joe’s bedroom, though he 
s the innocent victim of circumstance, 
protests Joe. Now and then incidents 
of the presidential interview are inter- 
polated. 

Brennan Again Is Outstanding 

<1 Certainly the Turps are an amusing 
pair. One wonders, though, if a more 
effective film would not have resulted if 
their mannerisms and antics were not 
given such a highlighting, if their amus- 
ing aspect did not contrast so widely 
with the essentially pathetic tone of the 
story related in flash-back. After all. 
there is also an aspect of pathos to the 
awkwardly groping Turps, as there is 
to their many counterparts: indeed, as 
there is, in some degree, to all of us. 

Ann Sothern and William Gargan 
are ideally cast for the pair, manage the 
Brooklyn lingo and mannerisms in a 
very comical way. The outstanding per- 
formance, though, is that of Walter 
Brennan, who makes an extraordinary 
transition from youth to old age, and 
invests a part which might have been a 
trifle maudlin with often moving hu- 
manness. 

She Surprises Us 

Marsha Hunt is a complete surprise 
as the girl of his heart, aging into a 
sweet old lady with admirable profi- 
ficiency. It is inherently admirable char- 
acterization, and if dat ol’ debil camera 
sometimes partly unmasks her youth, it 
is because the old boy is a relentlessly 
prying fellow and extremely hard to 
fool. 

Wisely, no attempt is made to dup- 
licate the President. Lewis Stone creates 
a president of his own, a representative 
high type of American, possessed of a 
strong sense of humor. Direction by 
Robert Sinclair is capable throughout. 
Cedric Gibbons and his associates have 
given us an attractive White House in- 
terior and a picturesque Brooklyn. Pho- 
tography and the musical score are of 
good calibre. 

A picture of unusual invention, in 
which Damon Runyon's characters. Joe 
and Ethel Turp, call on the President. 
There is a good bit of humor in it and 
some successful pathos too. 


Dt ocalist Breen 

Depicts A Latin 

ESCAPE TO PARADISE, RKO 

Associate producer Barney Briskin 

Director E-Ie C. Kenton 

Screen play Weldon Melick 

Original story Ian Hunter, Herbert C. Lewis 
Musical director Victor Young 

Songs: "Tra-La-La" and "Rhythm of the Rio," 

by Nilo Menendez, Edward Cherkose. 
Director of photography Charles Schoenbaum 
Art director Lewis J. Rachmil 

Film editor Arthur Hilton 

Cast: Bobby Breen, Kent Taylor, Marla Shel- 
ton, Joyce Compton, Pedro de Cordoba, Rob- 
ert O. Davis, Rosina Galli, Frank Yaconelli, 
Anna Demetrio. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

LL right as a programer. No great 
care has gone into the making of the 
new Bobby Breen offering, there are 
some rough edges hanging out in nearly 
all phases of production. The story, 
however, if rather obviously contrived 
in places and possessed of a few slow 
spots, is entertaining in a light way, 
bolstered by frequent interludes of song. 

A South American country is the lo- 
cale, where a young American tourist is 
inveigled by circumstance into buying a 
considerable quantity of mate, a South 
American tea, having presented himself 
as a New York dealer in order to have 
an excuse for meeting the planter’s come- 
ly daughter. The American’s guide, 
Bobby Breen, an imaginative lad, spreads 
the word around that the visitor is in- 
tent on buying up all the mate in the 
district, with the result that the fellow 
becomes a feted hero. 

Spanish Language Freely Used 

•I The lovers seem smitten by the auth- 
ors rather than by Dan Cupid, and the 
circumstances of the American’s becom- 
ing a local hero seem a little forced, but 
the plot suffices for a musical produc- 
tion. Portions are fairly amusing, and 
the piece affords numerous opportunities 
for interjecting song. One whole scene 
is done in Spanish, and Bobby does con- 
siderable singing in the language, fac- 
tors which should be assets for South 
American bookings, as will a ringing 
address by the American in which he 
advocates a greater unity and more 
extensive trade relations between the 
Americas. 

Bobby assumes a Spanish dialect in a 
natural and humorous way. He does 
well in the part, stands out despite that 
the plot actually centers about others. 
The preview audience seemed to go for 
the boy’s falsetto and heavy-of-vibrato 
singing. My own reaction is that he is 
getting to be a good sized lad now 
and could begin to cut down on the 
“schmalz.” His singing of one number 
in straight English, incidentally, quite 
abandoning the dialect, seemed rather 




PAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


too much of a liberty, even for a mu- 
sical. 

Musical Direction Able 

Cfl Kent Taylor gives a lithe and whim- 
sical performance as the tourist, and 
Marla Shelton is decorative as the sen- 
orita. Erie Kenton’s direction is satis- 
factory. The best technical contribu- 
tion is that of Victor Young’s, who has 
handled the music capably. 

Evidences of a limited budget are to 
be seen in the staging, though one or 
two of the sets are expansive and gen- 
erously peopled. The stepped-up pho- 
tography, resorted to during Bobby’s 
motorcycle episodes, is a slapstick de- 
vice, and cheapens a picture. A notice- 
ably poor piece of editing comes at the 
very end, when three performers assume 
a seated pose between one note of a song 
and another. The fault may lie in the 
shooting, of course. 

If you are a devotee of Bobby Breen’s 
singing, you will get a good deal of it 
here, much of it in the Spanish language. 
The lad assumes a Spanish accent too, 
and with humorous effect. 7'he story is 
acceptable for a musical, the staging ade- 
quate for a lower budget film. 

Detective-Fiance 

Again Outwitted 

PRIVATE DETECTIVE, a First National Picture 
Associate producer Bryan Foy 

Screen play Earle Snell, Raymond Schrock 
From a story by Kay Krause 

Director Noel Smith 

Director of photography Ted McCord, A.S.C. 
Art director Stanley Fleischer 

Film editor Harold McLernon 

Cast: Jane Wyman, Dick Foran, Gloria Dick- 
son, Maxie Rosenbloom, John Ridgely, Morgan 
Conway, John Eldredge, Joseph Crehan, Wil- 
liam Davidson, Vera Lewis, Julie Stevens, 
Jack Mower, Henry Blair, Earl Dwire, Willie 
Best. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
OTHING out of the ordinary, but a 
lively tempoed little picture, with 
fairly good playing. A murder mystery, 
the film is competently plotted, and con- 
siderable suspense is realized here and 
there. The ingredients are familiar, of 
course, about a young woman detective 
who consistently outwits her boy friend, 
a police detective, assigned to the same 
case — a la Torchy Blaine. That he could 
retain any love for her after being made 
a thorough dunce of, is indeed testimony 
to the efficacy of Cupid’s dart. 

There are a few little holes to be 
poked in the yarn if you want to take 
the trouble, but you are not supposed to 
be that critical. The offering will be 
shown in conjunction with a better 
grade of film, and the production theory 
behind this one apparently is that you 
cannot expect too much at bargain 
prices. 


Jane Wyman has made noticeable 
strides in the art of Thespis since I last 
saw her. It is a good comedy perform- 
ance she gives here, scintillating and as- 
sured, a factor that does much to make 
acceptable the supreme cleverness of the 
girl she portrays. Dick Foran spends 
most of his time being chagrined, is 
efficient at it. Gloria Dickson’s dramatic 
performance would have been improved 
by the absence of the long artificial eye- 
lashes and a more judicious use of the 
grease pots. She does not seem like the 
same actress who recently gave such a 
genuine portrayal opposite John Gar- 
field. 

Director Noel Smith's scenes are rath- 
er well worked out. Bryan Foy has not 
stinted on the staging. There is much 
of background music. The sets are ele- 
gant indeed. The yarn, incidentally, 
came from Kay Krause, and was screen- 
played by Earle Snell and Raymond 
Schrock. 

A detective yarn of B grade, as good 
as the run of them. 

Romantic Indeed 
Is The Cisco Kid 

THE CISCO KID AND THE LADY 
Twentieth Century-Fox 

Associate producer John Stone 

Director Herbert I. Leeds 

Screen play Frances Hyland 

Original story Stanley Rauh 

Suggested by the character, "The Cisco Kid," 

created by William Sydney Porter (O. 

Henry). 

Art direction Richard Day, Chester Gore 

Director of photography Barney McGill, A.S.C. 
Film editor Nick De Maggio 

Musical direction Samuel Kaylin 

Cast: Cesar Romero, Marjorie Weaver, Chris- 
pin Martin, George Montgomery, Robert Bar- 
rat, Virginia Field, Harry Green, Gloria Ann 
White, John Beach, Ward Bond, J. Anthony 
Hughes, James Burke, Harry Hayden, James 
Flavin, Ruth Warren. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
SOMEWHAT glorified Western 
The characters are more rounded 
than in the run of such operas, situa- 
tions are cleverer, there is a good deal 
of humor, but at heart 7 he Cisco Kid 
and the Lady is thoroughly loyal to the 
ridin' and shootin’ genre. It has that 
frank dedication to heroics and excite- 
ments which is a prepossessing quality 
in the Western. There are numerous 
little liberties taken with verisimilitude, 
but they will not bother you if you are 
in the spirit of the thing: and you will 
probably come around. 

The piece is as romantic and gusty a 
yarn as you will have seen. Stanley 
Rauh has wound a highly eventful tale 
about the O. Henry character and Fran- 
ces Hyland has got all the robustness and 
humor into the screen play, perhaps 
added some. The appellation “skunk” 
flies freely. 


Cfl A more glamorous Kid than any of 
his predecessors emerges, a sort of super- 
man as adept at the tango as at intrique 
and as facile at love-making as at song, 
a thoroughly keen, accomplished, and 
irresistible fellow. Quite a man. Cesar 
Romero is wholly equal to the task of 
embodying all the Kid’s attributes. It 
is an easy, graceful performance. If at 
times he comes perilously close to unc- 
tuousness, it is largely because the part 
is too heavily loaded with elan and fer- 
vor. The role would probably benefit 
by letting the fellow experience some 
heavier emotions. Unalloyed debonair- 
ness and cleverness can become a bit 
cloying. 

There is a substantial supporting cast. 
Marjorie Weavor does engagingly what 
she has to do. She should not notice- 
ably have penciled her eyes, though: 
school mams in those days didn t. 
Claudette Colbert presents us with the 
same anachronism as a pioneer woman 
in Drums Along the Mohawk. 

She Succumbs Too 

CJ Impressively tempestuous is Virginia 
Field as a fiery and seasoned cabaret en- 
tertainer who melts as readily as have 
a legion of others before the fervid 
“line” of the Kid. At the concluding 
fade-out she rides after him, and the 
two disappear into the sunset together, 
along with Chris-Pin Martin. Maybe 
the three are to be seen in further operas. 
Chris-Pin Martin has never been more 
spontaneously amusing than here. There 
is humor in Robert Barrat's typification 
of the stock handlebar-mustached vil- 
lain. George Montgomery is satisfac- 
tory, needs a little more experience. 

Considerable of the flavor and humor 
of the show is traceable to the direction 
of Herbert Leeds, perhaps the best 
work he has done. One of his most re- 
sponsive players, incidentally, is a baby, 
Gloria Ann White by name, who is 
prominently cast and frequently capti- 
vating. 

Scenic investiture is colorful, photog- 
raphy good. In fact, Cinematographer 
Barney McGill rates a plum for an ex- 
traordinary composition shot in which 
the baby, in the middle of a road, is 


Eye.? Examined AND Glasses Fitted 


DEVER D. GRAY, OPT. D. 

...OPTOMETRIST... 


1725 North Highland Avenue 
Hollywood, California 
HEmpstead 8438 




DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE NINE 


narrowly missed by a stage coach, 
swerving just in time. I hope it was 
a composition shot. The musical score 
of Samuel Kaylin is atmospheric. An 
apparent slip in the editing comes to 
mind, in which Barrat is seen in a 
long shot pointing a rifle at a wagon in 
the distance. In the following close-up, 
he speaks before he raises the gun. 

A Cisco Kid more dashing, accom- 
plished. and cleverer than any of his pre- 
decessors is here to be seen, and there 
is a gusto tale wound around him. It 
is all stuff, but you may find it divert- 
ing. 

Prison Ad clod ram a 
Is Aderely Grim 

THE BIG GUY, Universal Pictures 
Director Arthur Lukin 

Producer Burt Kelly 

Screen play t ester Cole 

Based on a story by: Wallace Sullivan, Rich- 
ard K. Polimer. 

Director of photography Elwood Bredel, A.S.C. 
Art director Jack Otterson 

Associate art director Charles H. Clarke 

Film editor Philip Cahn 

Musical director H. J. Salter 

Cast: Victor McLaglen, Jackie Cooper, Edward 
Brophy, Peggy Moran, Ona Munson, Russell 
Hicks, Jonathan Hale, Edward Pawley, George 
McKay. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

GAIN we are shown into the dread 
bowels of a orison. Only here the 

drama is gr’m without being either sig- 
nificant or forcefully melodramatic. The 
offering is pretty much of a fiasco from 
any aspect. Its story is fabricated, un- 
convincing, the playing generally un- 
distinguished. From the Erne the lad is 
innocently sent to the big house, we 
know it is only a matter of reels until 
the warden breaks down and confesses 
that he knows the lad was forced at the 
point of a gun to drive the truck in 
which two prisoners were escaping, and 
that he (the warden) contended he was 
unconscious during the entire ride be- 
cause he had gotten his hands on a bag 
of money after a smash-up and, with 
the other passengers dead or unconscious, 
had hidden it. 

The fact that a drawing for a new 
motor, needed to substantiate the boys 
plea of innocence, turns out to be the 
paper in which the warden has wrapped 
the money, is a good narrative twist, 
Dresents an effective bit of irony, but 
that is the only merit of the story. Some 
of the scenes were so improbable as to 
cause snickers. 

No Oscars for Anyone 

<1 As the warden, Victor McLagen ap- 
pears to be doing just what Director 
Arthur Lubin tells him too. Supposedly 
torn by inner conflict in one scene, the 
actor's grimace was so ludicrous as to 
provoke a round of laughter. Jackie 


Copper, than whom, as I have asserted 
before, there is no better juvenile player 
in pictures, works earnestly, is forceful 
in a spot or two. but the performance 
will not add to his cinematic starure. 

Edward Brophy is professional as 
a heavy, and as much can be said for 
Ona Munson, none too appropriately 
cast as the warden’s wife. Jonathan 
Hale makes the best of an insignificant 
part. Technical phases are all right. 

A very grim drama during which the 
audience lauahs at the wrong places. As 
for the children — have you interested 
them in making divinity with walnuts ? 

Jhti tfctliftoccct 

By Bert Harlen 

C OMES to the screen the ballet in 
On Your Toes, new Warner opus. 
Other films have given us ballet ex- 
hibitions in the abstract, as it were, but 
none that I recall presented a story told 
through the dance. In tlrs picture there 
are two tales recounted through the art 
of Terpsichore. Both aim not so much 
to glorify the ballet as to satirize it — 
at least one does: I was not sure about 
the other — but you can get the effect of 
dance-drama on the screen. 

Though undoubtedly shortened from 
their running time in the Broadway 
show, the two numbers seem very long 
on the screen, and deprived of some 
of the color and sparkle they must have 
had on the stage. Here we feel the 
dancers are taking too much time to tell 
their story and are telling it in a cum- 
bersome way. Yes, “cumbersome'’ is 
the word. 

Art Forms Confused 

q The dance itself certainly has a place 
on the screen, since it places before the 
camera rhythmic patterns, and rhythm 
is one of the most important elements 
of the cinema art. Few sights are more 
pleasing to see on the screen than a 
graceful dance routine. 

As for telling a story through the 
dance, however, here we get into a pil- 
ing up of art forms. The camera itself 
is a story telling medium. To relate 
with the camera a story of dancers re- 
lating a story with their art, is like 
telling a tale of another man telling 
a tale. 

On the screen actors do not unfold a 
story, but pictures of actors do. There 
is a big difference. 

* * * 

ROUND AND ROUND THEY GO 

UCH space in the trade publications 
continues to be occupied by distrib- 
utor-exhibitor controversy. A glance 
into the current weekly Variety presents 
a complexity of viewpoints, of charges 
and counter-charges, brought to a head 


by trepidation resulting from the loss 
of European markets. Distributors, in 
line with a recent recommendation of 
Joseph Schenck, feel the exhibitors 
should cooperate with longer runs: ex- 
hibitors have retorted “give us the pic- 
tures.’ ' The only point on which there 
appears to be any common agreement is 
that there might be benefit in making 
fewer pictures, a recommendation also 
advanced by Schenck. incidentally. 
Probably there is not full accord even 
here. And “fewer’’ is not very definite. 

Murray Silverstone, who directs 
world-wide operations for United Art- 
ists, feels that “every consideration’’ 
from exhibitors is imperative, else they 
may even find themselves in the diffi- 
cult position of having no films to ex- 
hibit at all, since the theatre chains 
affiliated with producer - distributors 
may have to start draining their own 
product to the full if a dwindling in the 
flow of films appears likely. 

Months Ahead Critical 

CJ Box office returns during the next 
few months will tell the tale, he main- 
tains. If the income is not sufficient, 
producers will have to realign invest- 
ments, and this curtailment is likely to 
result in lessened quality as well as 
quantity of output. There be some 
theatre-owners who “don’t have the 
slightest conception of our problems, ” 
believes Silverstone. 

Exhibitors, however, viewing with 
vexation the heady Hollywood salaries 
— still heady, despite magnanimous sal- 
ary cuts — and piqued by a market 
flooded with dull quickies, will not 
take kindly to the gentleman’s admoni- 
tion. So it goes, round and round. 

Mo Wax Sits In 

CJ The best reflection of the independ- 
ent exhibitor’s outlook is to be found 
in the editorials of Mo Wax in his 
Film Bulletin. Recently he cited the 
attitude of exhibitors at a meeting he 
attended of the Allied unit of independ- 
ent exhibitors in Philadelphia. Unani- 
mously they voted to seek elimination 
of dual bills in their territory. How it 
is to be done perplexes them, though. 

Says one exhibitor. “The chain 
house in my neighborhood milks the 
good ones dry and leaves the others 
clear for me — but who wants to see 
the others l When I play some of those 
’dogs’ as singles. I hide in my office 
for fear the few patrons will demand 
their money back. At least, two fea- 
tures is a bargain and nobody expects 
much quality in a bargain basement. 

Urged to Take a Stand 

•J Another exhibitor says he paid 
$2,000 last season for films he did not 
show. Eventually passage of the Neely 
Bill will substantially solve these prob- 
lems of industrial maladjustment. In 
(Continued on page 12) 




PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


'film IfluAic and Jlfo tftakete BRUNO DAVID USSHER 


Peace On Earth 

CjJ Christmas season and the shocking 
turn of events abroad lend timeliness to 
a one-reel MGM cartoon. Peace On 
Earth, in which Scott Bradley has inter- 
woven various carols in an engaging 
manner. As in his earlier cartoon scores, 
Bradley uses musical effects wherever he 
can in place of mere physical sound, as 
he has done so cleverly in a short color- 
cartoon, The Goldfish. How well the 
industry thinks of Peace On Earth — 
produced by Hugh Harman, who is in 
charge of MGM’s cartoon department 
and writes most of the "action ”— is in- 
dicated by the fact that this short will 
precede Gone With the Wind when that 
super-spectacle is world-premiered at At- 
lanta. Locally it will be released next 
week. I believe cartoons, calling as they 
do for continuous music background, 
will have a definite effect on the amount 
of music in full length pictures. 

In Peace On Earth the only non-mu- 
sical sound, apart from dialogue, is the 
crashing of shells. Once or twice the 
street carols, when heard in the squirrel 
home, should sound less loud than out- 
doors, but that is a small matter. Brad- 
ley’s craftsmanship in musical minia- 
tures is exemplified once more. For in- 
stance, he uses nothing but a low viola 
tremolo over deeply beating kettle-drums 
as the last two men in the world die in 
battle. As they sink down even the 
violas cease and finally even the drums 
merge into a silence that grows tense, 
although it lasts but ten seconds. 

No need to mention the fine use 
of English horn, celeste, trumpet and 
strings. The various carols can be easily 
recognized. None of Bradley’s one-reel 
scores exceels 425-450 measures, accord- 
ing to the tempo. But they embody an 
amount of feeling and skill to warrant 
giving him screen credit. What would 
a cartoon be without music ? 

* * * 

Thanks to Two Stones 

•J This is to give thanks to two 

"stones," Producer - Director Andrew 

Stone for his newest musical, The Great 
Victor Herbert, and to the music de- 
partment chief, Louis Lipstone, for 

watching over so finely-balanced, well- 
sounding a recording. It is one of the 
best from Paramount. I am grateful to 
Producer Stone for his continued faith 
in "musicals" of an order in which mar, 
ried people quarrel about something else 
than a pair of glamor Tegs belonging to 
a third party. I see that some of the 
Los Angeles reviewers think the plot — 
which I will not tell — -a little familiar. 
What of it? Life is that way. in Holly- 
wood of all places, where congenial men 


and women agree to separate because of 
career reasons. 

The picture is staged most faithfully 
with due regard for all the mohair-cov- 
ered tastes and horsehair - upholstered 
manners of the better middle-class. The 
now historic ugliness of fashion and 
broad-tracked emotions of that time are 
well preserved visually and musically. 
It would have been tempting to make 
Herbert’s music a little spicier than it is, 
in keeping with present jitterizations, 
but the two "corner 'stones' ” of the 
production rested firmly in their faith 
in the original. 

Many Melodies 

t| Some thirty of Herbert's finest melo- 
dies are embodied in a score accompanied 
by the following credits in addition to 
Lipstone’s name: music supervisor, Phil- 
ip Boutelje: scorer. Arthur Lange: vocal 
arrangements, Max Terr: dance num- 
bers, Leroy Prinz: orchestral conductor, 
Arthur Kay. There is a great deal of 
singing, almost too much singing in a 
picture of medium length. One is par- 
ticularly glad to hear again Allan Jones, 
who has done so well for MGM and for 
whom that studio did less well by not 
finding proper assignments. Paramount 
introduces two new women singers, 
Mary Martin, a really fine artist vocally, 
possessing a lovely mezzo soprano, and 
young Susanna Foster, heralded becausp 
of her high notes. Singing in general 
could have been emotionally more alive. 
I like light moods to be exhilarating, 
with a little more abandon of expres- 
sion. 

Allan Jones is still the best tenor on 
the screen. His voice sounded well, his 
tones darker of timbre than usual, which 
may have been the result of observant 
sound engineering, whereby his and the 
Martin voice blended effectively. Those 
who like altitudinous tones will applaud 
Susanna Foster, shild soprano of very 
fine means, which, I hope, she retains. 
She is a "find," no doubt, but she her- 
self can find yet better enunciation. It 
is an all-Herbert score and the Herbert 
fans will glory in it, even though in his 
buxom days the popular Irish-American 
lord of melodies was not quite so sol- 
emn a personage as exemplified here. A 
great picture for Herbert fans. 

* * :}c 

Hurrah for Destry 

<1 And hurrah for horse opera, as the 
Westerns are called sometimes in good- 
natured spirit of mockery. Universal's 
Destry Rides Again is full of the most 
sage-brush-scented tunes and songy tin- 
kle of the range heard since Wanger's 
Stage Coach. It speaks irresistibly to 
my fugue-infested ears. Frank Skinner 


has not only chosen the right type of 
music for this fun-and-gun crowded 
saga of the raucously living prairie me- 
tropolis of Bottleneck: he has managed 
to make it into something as essentially 
atmospheric as the settings themselves. 
George Marshall, who directed the pic- 
ture, evidently let him have his way, 
and Music Director Charles Previn suc- 
ceeded in balancing the roaring and 
whooping of vociferous Bottleneckcrs 
(which is what their prototypes must 
have been) with the music. 

The faint banjo strumming coming 
from the saloon downstairs while a des- 
perate card game is being played for a 
man’s ranch upstairs, is quite telling. 
And there is the tough singing of that 
brazen Jezebel of Bottleneck, none other 
than Marlene Dietrich. If one recalls 
her velvety, purring songs in The Blue 
Angel, then one will award her a prize 
for vocal realism now that she waves her 
frontier-parched voice with a broad glare 
like a red and coarse-cottoned bandana. 
At first I thought she sounded a bit too 
"torchy" and modern of tone in a pic- 
ture so evidently of a period when Gree- 
ley (or was it Dana?) advised young 
men to go west. She sings three songs: 
Little Joe the Wrangler, The Boys In 
the Back Room and You've Got I hat 
Look, quite of the old ballad type, es- 
pecially the first two. Frank Loesser 
wrote the lyrics and Felix Hollaender. 
he of the kid-gloved, patent-leathered 
society picture, scores the music. 1 hey 
knocked the spots off ’em with their 
team work, just as Destry when he 
chose to shoot. 

ijc 

Enter: La Massey 

<]| Operating on the plausible principle 
that nothing succeeds like success. Holly- 
wood is opening its doors wide to sing- 
ers, so-called "musicals,” as screen-op- 
erettas are called, finding new vogues 
with the men in charge of production 
policies. This renewed trend in favor 
of singing stars may be attributed to 
MGM’s consistent policy in that direc- 
tion. RKO and 20th Century-Fox have 
fairly steadily kept up the race for mu- 
sical comedy honors on the screen. 
MGM is about to release Balalaika, fea- 
turing Ilona Massey as the female lead 
for vocal laurels on the Culver City lot. 
I have pinned my faith on her since she 
sang something not important in the 
super-terrific Rosalie of lamentable col- 
ossality. I am preening myself since be- 
ing told that Ernest Lubitsch considers 
La Massey (which is not the real name 
of the Hungarian artist) , "the best, big- 
gest and most vivid singing-acting tal- 
ent in Hollywood." And Lubitsch 
should know. Indeed, my informant 


DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE ELEVEN 


says. Lubitsch wants to solo-star Made- 
moiselle Illona as soon as she has ful- 
filled his immediate two-picture contract 
for United Artists. 

* * * 

Gentle and Yet More 

Background music for We Are Not 
Alone demonstrates engagingly that mu- 
sic need not be heavy of touch to be 
emotionally emphatic. Comooser Max 
Steiner and his orchestrator. Hugo Fried- 
hofer, have emulated with artistic fidel- 
ity the general deftness of touch with 
which Producer-Director Henry Blanke 
has bared human tragedy in this pic- 
ture. It is a story of a good man crush- 
ed between the coarse and inexorable 
milestones of small-town convention, 
and hard-hearted propriety which turns 
real human decency into murder of soul 
and body. It is a deadly conflict be- 
tween human natures too far apart to 
come to terms. 

It is the story of the trial and the 
doom of people who do not belong to- 
gether, and whose pitiful, guiltless fail- 
ures are judged traditionally by a court 
of public opinion and law, instead of 
being tended by psychiatrists. All this 
has been taken into account by Steiner, 
who writes tenderly, using bits of folk 
songs, of Mozart, Haydn and Schubert, 
if memory does not fail me. Quite per- 
sonally speaking, I do not relish the ob- 
vious change of Kommt a Vogerl into 
a dirge when the victims of unaware- 
ness are sentenced to die. I liked greatly 
the merry-go-round background music 
for the scene of quiet conversation be- 
tween the doctor and the girl. On oth- 
er occasions, too, Steiner has written 
apart from the visual scene, and with 
notable results of suggestion. 

* * * 

More Than Effective 

•I Albert Sendrey's background score 
for Whirlpool of Desire (shown at Cin- 
ema Arts T heatre) makes me curious to 
know other music he has written for 
the screen. The whole film leaves much 
to the imagination in the best sense of 
the word. The music hints at what is 
going on in the hearts of the chief per- 
sonages. Sendrey never waxes complex 
musically. He does exhibit himself in 
that part of film-dramatic no-man’s 
land which the author. Peggy Thomp- 
son, leaves undescribed as far as actual 
dialogue goes. 

At times, dialogue is duly laconic and 
music adds what need not be said in so 
many words. Occasionally I missed the 
help of orchestral underscoring. Very 
neat is the sequence of the inspection of 
the dam. when a waltz is made to serve 
also as a tone picture for unseen men and 
engineers at work. The waltz serves as 
one of the emotionally significant key 
themes, but I could have wished for 
something strong musically to accom- 
pany the symbolic shots of turbulent 
water which allegorize visually the tur- 


moil in a human soul. It is a well re- 
corded and engagingly simple score 
which definitely aids the picture. The 
composer, a Los Angeles man. confirms 
my suspicions that the score was cut 
when the picture was re-edited in Amer- 
ica. Sendrey bears watching. 

j}i SJ 1 5«C 

Lovely Voice 

P ERHAPS it is MGM studio policy to 
keep lyric soprano Florence George 
sound-tight, at least as far as the screen 
is concerned. Perhaps the Georgean 
state of “protective custody" is the re- 
sult of story-differences of opinion. I 
have been told that fully half a dozen 
tales have been proposed, but no quorum 
could be reached among those who de- 
cided the filmic fates of the fair singer. 
Which is a pity. La George (in private 
life Mrs. Everett Crosby), however, is 
not letting any grass grow under her . . . 
vocal chords. She is working daily with 
vocal maestro Charles Dalmores and 
coach-pianist Sylvan Breen. 

Bennett Returns 

<]( Russell Bennett, for years arranger 
and orchestral collaborater with Jerome 
Kern, is back from New York City 
where Very Warm for May, the new 
Kern-Hammerstein musicale, was con- 
sidered warm enough also for New York 
in November. I watched him listening 
to the orchestra rehearse a quite difficult 
sequence, looking a bit quizzical and 
pained and pleased in turn. The se- 
quence was from Bluebird and the high- 
ly atmospheric orchestration by Conrad 
Salinger, for the last several years staff - 
orchestrator at Twentieth Century-Fox. 
* * * 

Mr. Malotte's Luck 

Cfl Considering that Albert Hay Ma- 
lotte’s songs (a whole group of them, 
old and new ones) have been sung by 
John Charles Thomas at Carnegie Hall 
and on tour, I am not surprised that 
Malotte will do the songs the baritone 
sings in Kingdom Come, which Sig 
Schlager is producing for Producers’ 
Corporation. Schirmer is publishing 
five new Malotte chansons: Among the 
Living, a timely lullaby, which I pre- 
dict will be heard much. (It will be on 
the Tibbett tour program). One, Two 
7 hree was written for Nelson Eddy, 
whose tour program includes another 
Malotte novelty: Melody of My Love. 
The other two titles are Miracle and 
The Poor Old Man. 

Malotte has also sold to Schirmer’s a 
piano piece: Chanson Pastorale. He is a 
versatile, genuine melodist whose top- 
hits includes such contrasted topics as 
Perdinand the Bull (for Disney) and 
23rd Psalm. Malotte just wrote part of 
the music of Paramount’s Dr. Cyclops. 
I have had faith in him since Gertrude 
Ross, when ballet committee chairman 
for the Hollywood Bowl, produced his 
Red Riding Hood score with La Gam 


tarelli dancing. I think Schlager made 
a good choice in Malotte. The public 
is welcoming more sensitive background 
music for underscoring of film. It will 
enjoy a change from song-tunes, most 
of which are written with an eye on 
dance band royalties. A change from 
hoofing to real heart tunes would be 
nice. 

Iisro end There 

<1 Producer Lee Garmes has signed 
Frank Tours as musical director for 
And So Goodby at RKO. Tours will 
later work at Kingdom Come. 

Aaron Copland expects to finish his 
score for the Hal Roach-Milestone film 
Of Mice and Men. by the middle of 
next month. Irvin Talbot will conduct 
the recordings. He does most of them 
at Paramount when composers are bet- 
ter with a pen than with a stick. Vir- 
ginia Wright of the Daily News sized 
up Copland well when suggesting that 
20th-Century Fox sign him to compose 
background music for Grapes of Wrath. 

Werner Heyman, former music di- 
rector for UFA of Berlin, is being kept 
busy by Nat Finston, MGM’s music 
chief. Heyman is at work on two im- 
portant productions by Lubitsch and 
Saville. He also was responsible for 
music in Garbo’s Ninotchka. 

THIS HOLLYWOOD 

(Continued from page 10) 

the meantime, though, what is to be 
done? Mo Wax urges exhibitor organi- 
zations to take a concerted stand and 
serve notice now on film exchanges that 
none of their members will contract 
for more than 30 features from any 
company next season. Producers would 
have nearly a full season to readjust 
their schedules. 

It is impossible for any studio to 
turn out more than 30 features of a 
calibre worthy of being presented to 
the public, he contends. Limitation to 
this number would result in immediate 
improvement in the quality of films in 
general. Once quickies are eliminated, 
double bills will go "the way of the 
buffalo." Public appetite for films 
would be revived. "30 Is The Top — 
And No Quickies!" he advances as a 
slogan for next season's buying. Sounds 
pretty logical. 

* * * 

A FOOLISH PRODUCTION WASTE 

Two Rip Van Winkle productions 
are to reach the screen, from all ap- 
pearances. Twentieth Century-Fox an- 
nounces its intention of making the 
legend, despite an earlier announcement 
by the independent Monogram, which 
plans to film the tale as a piece de re- 
sistance, sinking its highest budget yet 
into the production. Why not give the 
little fellow a break? 


PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


A Plea and a Play 

By 

WELFORD BEATON 

Tells why too much dialogue is box- 
office poison, and demonstrates the man- 
ner in which it can be reduced. 

An invaluable little volume for all 
students of the screen. 


PRICE: 

ONE DOLLAR 



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ST. GEORGE — 1245 Vine 
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Near radio center. Singles, 
doubles, studios. Rates $43 
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Hollywood 1911 


OLIVER CROMWELL — 
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center; Polly Gregg, man- 
ager. Rates $55 to $90 
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DRexel 2261 


THE LIDO— 6500 Yucca; 
G. M. Strobel, manager. 
Spacious lobby, music 
room, solarium ?nd coffee 
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Hollywood 2961 


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Rates $65 to $150 month. 

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Belle W rinkle, Mgr. 

A tastefully furnished 
imposing French Nor- 
ma n c’ y structure, with 
24-hour desk service. 
A good address in the 
heart of Hollywood. 
Rates $50 to $125. 
Hillside 3121 


The GRAMERCY 


The ASBURY 


634 S. Gramercy PI. 

Pauline McKay, Mgr. 
Just a half block from 
Wilshire markets, 
shops and theatres. An 
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The ARMITAGE 

545 S. Hobart Ave. 

Mrs. Bertha Robinson 
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An inexpensive apart- 
ment house, close - in 
and ideal for working 
couples who wish econ- 
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bles priced fre m $37.53 
to $75. 

FEderal 5887 


2505 W. 6th St. 
Mrs. M. K u hi man 
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12 stories. Drive - in 
garage, sand sun deck, 
and full hotel service. 
Dining room in con- 
nection. Near beautiful 
Westlake Park. Rates 
$65 to $175 and up. 
Daily from $4. 

Exposition 4151 



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ACCOMMODATIONS BY DAY. WEEK. MONTH 


The George Pepperdine 
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apartment hotels. They 
combine the service and 
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When visitors arrive, 
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Write or phone for com- 
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PEPPERDINE FOUNDATION 

■ * * * APARTMENT-HOTELS * * * 

Ex. nos » RENTALS » 2508 W 8th 


DECEMBER 9, 1939 


PAGE THIRTEEN 





BY 

INA ROBERTS 


/ZcckA and JihnA 

Illinois Parent and Teacher Projects 

Mr. J. Kay White, chairman of the 
Visual Education Committee of the Illi- 
nois Congress of Parents and Teachers, 
when requesting that Spectator Book- 
Film Panels be loaned him, asked that 
he might be allowed to keep these an 
extra three weeks in order to display 
them at twenty additional meetings at 
which he or one of his committee was 
scheduled to speak. He has since written 
that the panels have been enjoyed by 
more than 2000 persons. 

In response to my request he gives the 
projects being developed by his com- 
mittee: 1. Present the meaning and 

show the value of such aids as drawings, 
exhibits, models, motion pictures, etc. 
2. Encourage the establishment and pro- 
jection of state, regional, county and 
city film and slide libraries. 3. Assist 
educationoal institutions in sponsoring 
conferences on visual education and mo- 
tion pictures. 4. Organize clubs among 
young people to produce still and mo- 
tion pictures for public relations pro- 
grams. 5. Promote the study of motion 
picture appreciation and discrimination 
in school and home by suggesting mo- 
tion picture courses as part of curricu- 
lums. 6. Assist recreational groups 
with visual type of programs. 7. Read, 
study and support Federal legislation 
endorsed by the National Congress of 
Parents and Teachers. 8. Recommend 
the establishment of courses on visual 
education and motion pictures in col 
leges as an in-service training for teach- 
ers and administrators. 9. Study local 
school taxes and budgets and cooperate 
with the Board of Education and Sup- 
erintendent. 10. Interest parents to or- 
ganize study groups on vital subjects. 

Books and Films 

We are indebted to The Saturday Re- 
view of Literature for permission to 
quote from an editorial in its issue of 
August 26th entitled Books and Mov- 
ies. "A correspondent to one of the 
newspapers recently commented on the 
fact that a New York motion picture 
house he attended had on display a row 
of books. It has always seemed to us 
that the publishers are missing an op- 
portunity by not tying up their works 
more closely with current product:ons. 
. . . More and more the film is turning 
to historic incident for its episode and 
more and more there must be desire for 
information on the events described.” 
The prevailing tendency toward the 
historic in films proves also the accur- 
acy of a favorite saying of mine — 
Truth is stranger than fiction and far 
more interesting. Were this not so, 
history would not figure so prominently 
in films, which, to win the public must, 
before all else, be interesting. 


Our Book-Film Panels 

5J On November 28th an exhibit of the 
Spectator Book-Film Panels was on view 
at a meeting of the Opera and Fine Arts 
Club of Los Angeles (Mrs. J. F. Ander- 
son, president). The occasion was a so- 
cial and program affair held in the ball- 
room of the Royal Palms Hotel. The 
panels shown aroused much interest. 
The films featured were Danger Flight. 
Disputed Passage. Drums Along the Mo- 
hawk, Five Little Peppers and How 
They Grew. The Great Victor Herbert. 
Gulliver's Travels. The Hunchback of 
Notre Dame, The Light Fhat Failed. 
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Pri- 
vate Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Rul- 
ers of the Sea, Seventeen. Swiss Family 
Robinson. Tower of London and We 
Are Not Alone. 

The Spectator Book - Film Panels 
(28"x22") are loaned free to gatherings 
of film groups, libraries and schools. 
Those borrowing the panels are request- 
ed to prepay return expressage. The 
panels consist of film stills and jackets 
of: 1. The book filmed (if any). 2. 
Books by the same author. 3. Books 
connecting with the film through sub- 
ject. Unless more are especially request- 
ed, three panels are loaned at a time. 
When requesting panels, write to Mrs. 
Ina Roberts. Books and Films Depart- 
ment, The Hollywood Spectator. 6513 
Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Cal- 
ifornia. 


The Dark Command 

<| Now in production is Republic's Dark 
Command, said to surpass even Man of 
Conquest. This film will picture the 
life of William Quantrell and his rebel- 
lion. John Wayne, Claire Trevor. Wal- 
ter Pidgeon. Roy Rogers, Marjorie Main 
and George Hayes head the cast. 

More Juvenile Classics 

•I I am quoting from Mrs. Thomas G. 
Winter's valuable notes, "Out from the 
Studios” in giving you the following 
facts about the filmed version of Maeter- 
linck's Bluebird, in which Shirley Tem- 
ple will star. Mrs. Winter writes: “Most 
fascinating is the set contrived to build 
illusion for 'The Land of the Future.’ 
It will have the appearance of being sus- 
pended in mid air, its ethereal beauty 

r W V * V W W V TTTTTTT T- 

PAMPHLETS 

SLOGANS THAT CIRCUtATE BOOKS 
LIBRARY RADIO PUBLICITY 
V/HEN BOOKS AND MOVIES MEET 

(A guide to book-film cooperation) 

... 25c EACH ... 

Send Orders to: INA ROBERTS 
946 South Magnolia Avenue 
Los Angeles, California 

> A A* *.+.*.*. ■*. 


stretching out into unlimited space. Part 
of the set is in the shape of a swan with 
great wing sails stretching high into the 
sky.” The dream sequences of the film 
are in color. 

Little Orvie 

*J Another juvenile classic in production 
or soon to be, is Little Orvie. made from 
the story by Booth Tarkington. Cast 
in this is Johnny Sheffield, the adorable 
seven-year-old boy who was seen in 
Tarzan Finds a Son. The plot centers 
around the neighborhood adventures of 
a harum-scarum boy who upsets com- 
munity routine with his never-say-die 
efforts to acquire a dog in the face of 
parental opposition. 

1.000,000 B. C. 

1 ,000,000 B. C., now in production 
at Hal Roach studios, promises to be a 
film that is "different.” Part of the pic- 
ture is being filmed in Fire Valley, Ne- 
vada. The location seems especially ap- 
propriate since the camp fire ashes of the 
early Fire Valley folk have been cold for 
hundreds of centuries. Palentologists 
have found Fire Valley a happy hunting 
ground. Remains of Giant Ground 
Sloths and other extinct mammals, also 
traces of earlier dinosaurs have been ex- 
cavated and are on exhibition in mu- 
seums. A small institution near Over- 
ton has many of the Valley’s fossil 
yield. Some of the vanished monsters 
revived on the. screen once roamed this 
same sector, beasts like Tynannosaurus, 
Triceratops and the Mastodon. 

I Married Adventure 

<J From the monster mammals of pre- 
historic times to the wild animals of to- 
day pictured in coming film, I Married 
Adventure, is a far cry in time. This 
picture, filmed entirely in Africa, cli- 
maxes twenty years of adventure of Osa 
(Mrs. Martin) Johnson in the dark 
continent. Forty-two specimens of wild 
life were trapped by the camera for this 
film. The book, "I Married Adven- 
ture,” by Mrs. Johnson, will be pub- 
lished next month by the J. B. Lippin- 
cott Company. 


The Bookplate 


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REVIEWED 
(Page 3) 


The Light That Failed it 

The Earl of Chicago ★ 

Charlie McCarthy, Detective 
Thou Shalt Not Kill 


Raffles k Of Mice and Men 

Swanee River ★ Invisible Stripes 

k Everything Happens at Night 
k G ulliver's Travels 


SPECTATOR 


Every Other Week 


Edited by WELFORD BEATON 


Fourteenth Year 


Los Angeles, California, January 6, 1940 


Vol. 14— No. 19 


DAVID OLIVER SELZNICK 
The Great Picture Producer Who Made of 
“Gone With the Wind" 

The Screen's Greatest Achievement 



EDITOR'S SECRETARY EXPLAINS 


HOLLYWOOD S 
years, $8; foreign, $6. 

PAGE TWO 


1 AM Mr. Beaton's secretary. I take his dictation, 
* which is fast; I transcribe his handwriting, which is 
awful; I try to make him keep his appointments, which 
is impossible; he says I boss him, which is ridiculous; 
even the combined bossing attempts of Mrs. Specta- 
tor and me have proved futile. 

Mr. Beaton has gone away with Mrs. Spectator for 
two weeks. He left a note on my typewriter: "You've 
copied enough of my stuff to be able to fill the 'Easy 
Chair' pages yourself. Go to it. And don't dare send 
any mail to me, telephone me or telegraph me before 
we get back from where you don't know we're going." 

Fancy that! Fancy my writing about pictures I 
don't have time to see! What do I know about too 
much dialogue, too loud reading of dialogue, filmic 
motion, screen art, whether this or that picture will 
be good box-office, and all the other things my boss 
is always writing about? 

I could write something about a perfectly gorgeous 
gown I saw in Harry Cooper's window on Hollywood 
Boulevard. It is an evening gown of blue chiffon with 
a wide silver sequin girdle. With a white fox cape it 
would make a perfectly divine outfit with which to 
slay my boy friend on New Year's Eve. 

Or I might write some choice gossip. Did you hear 
about the star's wife who — 

No, Mr. Beaton would not like that. 

I think the "Easy Chair" readers will have to wait 
until the Editor gets back. It will be in time for the 
next Spectator. — Grace. 


ECTATOR published bi-weekly at Los Angeles, Calif., by Hollywood Spectator Co., 6513 Hollywood Blvd. ; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price, $5 the year; two 
Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter. September 23. 1938. at the Post Office at Los Angeles, Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3, 1879. 

HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 



ue Otted £cck £ike 

; j ■■ 

a Colman In 


Best Performance 

THE LIGHT THAT FAILED, Paramount 

Producer-director William A. Wellman 

Screen play Robert Carson 

Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling 

Director of photography: Theodor Sparkuhl, 

ASC. 

Art direction Hans Dreier, Robert Odell 

Editor Thomas Scott 

Music score Victor Young 

Interior decorations A. E. Freudeman 

Cast: Ronald Colman, Walter Huston, Muriel 
Angelus, Ida Lupino, Dudley Digges, Ernest 
Cossart, Ferike Boros, Pedro de Cordoba, Colin 
Tapley, Fay Helm, Ronald Sinclair, Sarita 
Wooton, Halliwell Hobbes, Charles Irwin, 
Francis McDonald, George Regas, Wilfred 
Roberts. 

Reviewed by W. B. 

O NE to put on your list of pictures to 
see. As a story it will interest you, 
and as an example of brilliant screen 
craftsmanship it will please you greatly. 
It has many excellent qualities, but the 
two which stand out are the perform- 
ance of Ronald Colman and the direc- 
tion of William Wellman. As a whole 
it is a psychological study made enter- 
taining by the manner in which it is 
presented. Ronald proves ideal casting 
for the leading part, that of a soldier- 
artist who loses his eyesight after he 
ceases to be soldier and becomes wholly 
an artist. It is his reaction to this great 
affliction which makes the picture so 
engrossingly dramatic. 

As I recall those I can of the roles 
Ronald Colman has played in the past 
dozen years, I would rate his Light 
That Failed performance as the finest, 
most discerning and powerful he has 
given us. In this picture he still is the 
pleasant gentleman, a quality he retains 
even when he is on the border of be- 
coming a drunkard, but he adds to 
it a realization of dramatic values which 
strengthens his standing as one of the 
most accomplished actors. 

Wellman Excels Himself 


is leaving the room in which he has 
been visiting Ronald; as he reaches the 
door, a mirror on the wall beside it 
picks up Ronald, thus making the scene 
complete without resort to a camera 
change. Another striking contribution 
by Wellman is the manner in which he 
makes us believe we are looking at real 
people living their lives, not actors play- 
ing parts. 

Robert Carson's screen play is an 
able bit of writing, even though it is a 
bit slow in giving us a clue to the di- 
rection in which the story is heading. 
It will be clear to those who are familiar 
with Kipling's original, but others will 
be in doubt until the element of im- 
pending blindness which is to afflict the 
artist begins to take form. It is a som- 
ber story coming at a time when the 
world is somber, a factor which may 
effect the box-office fate of the picture 
in spite of its dramatic power and hu- 
man appeal. 

Noteworthy Performances 

<1 With such direction as Wellman 
gives, only excellent performances could 
be expected. Walter Huston, Ida Lu- 
pino, Dudley Digges, Ernest Cossart 
are to be credited with fine work which 
is equalled in fineness by those who 
play the lesser parts. The picture pre- 
sents us with a newcomer in the person 
of Muriel Angelus, who here makes her 
American film debut, and an auspicious 
debut it proves to be. Cossart plays 
"Beeton,” Ronald s servant, and the 
first time Ronald called his name loud- 
ly, I stood up. 

Theodor Sparkuhl s photography is 
of fine quality, and all the other tech- 
nical contributions to the picture are of 
equally high standard. 

Recommended to students of the 
screen as a valuable study in film crafts- 
manship. Note the quiet simplicity with 
which dramatic climaxes are built to. 
and the believable humanness of all the 
characters. Scarcely for children; no 
sacrifice of good taste, and exhibitors 
can promise their patrons Ronald Col- 
man's best performance. 


<1 William Wellman’s direction is mas- 
terly, revealing a power he previously 
had not attained. He is equally com- 
pelling in mass shots and intimate 
scenes, in the latter being particularly 
adept in establishing characterizations 
and advancing the story by subtle ges- 
tures, glances, composition and move- 
ment. In no instance does he resort to 
established screen conventions or lay 
himself open to the charge of having 
done something because it always has 
been done that way. One interesting 
shot is that in which Walter Huston 


Montgomery Film 

Peculiar Indeed 

THE EARL OF CHICAGO, MGM 
Producer Victor Saville 

Director Richard Thorpe 

Screen play Lesser Samuels 

Story Charles de Grandcourt, Gene Fowler 

Book Brock Williams 

Musical score Werner R. Heymann 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 


Director of photography Ray June, ASC 

Film editor Frank Sullivan 

Cast: Robert Montgomery, Edward Arnold, 

Reginald Owen, Edmund Gwenn, E. E. Clive, 
Ronald Sinclair, Norma Varden, Halliwell 
Hobbes, Ian Wulf, Peter Godfrey, Billy Bevan. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

VERY peculiar drama indeed. No 
heroine. The piece starts out in a 
comedy vein and ends up with the 
hero approaching the scaffold. The 
theme is unusual too, having to do 
with the metamorphosis of a Chicago 
gangster boss who inherits a large estate 
and a title of Earl in England. That 
is to say, the metamorphosis is under 
way when the drama takes its somber 
turn. 

By a rather roundabout process does 
the drama come to the screen, the screen 
play by Lesser Samuels having been 
based on a story by Charles de Grand- 
court and Gene Fowler, who in turn 
adapted their work from the book The 
Earl of Chicago by Brock Williams. Or 
maybe Screen Scriptist Samuels consult- 
ed the Williams book too. It is ever 
so slightly confusing. At any rate, that 
there were divergent views of the ma- 
terial is evident in the joint handiwork. 
The idea is original and clever, a few 
of the scenes are absorbingly entertain- 
ing, yet one feels more could have been 
done with the story as a whole. 

Could Have Ended Otherwise 

Undoubtedly this tragic turn of the 
story amounts to a shift in genre. If 
the ending was to be heavy it should 
have been prepared for. The execution 
was the finale of the book too, I am 
told, but in the film the influences of 
English tradition and refinement upon 
the gangster are shown to be so telling, 
and are depicted with such humor and 
sensibility, that we rather expect to see 
him ultimately fall in line with what 
is expected of him by those dependent 
on him by virtue of his high position, 
and some spectators may be disappoint- 
ed by the outcome. One feels that the 
story could have ended another way. 

A worthy phase of the story is the 
setting forth of the importance of rank 
and of tradition and ceremony in the 
British social system. The racketeer, 
who had gone to England intent on 
liquidating all his property and return- 
ing with the money, comes to under- 
stand noblesse oblige. And he comes as 
well to experience a certain pride in the 
ancestors who lived in the great castle 
before him, and who are venerated for 
the part they played in building the 
English nation — “big shots.” The cer- 
emony at which the fellow becomes 
officially bestowed with the title, is 
staged in a replete way, and is interest- 



JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE THREE 


ing and impressive, as too is his event- 
ual trial before the House of Lords. 

Star's Performance Good 

CJ Robert Montgomery goes to the pains 
of giving a distinct characterization as 
the racketeer, even to moving forward 
his hair line. It is good work. He gets 
a good deal of humor out of the fellow’s 
impact with the English influences, and 
a bit of pathos too. Probably the crack- 
ling laugh could have been modified. 
Seems the authors would have done well 
not to have made the gangster quite so 
materialistic — “animalistic’’ is the word. 
He might have been a little less gross; 
he would have gained in humanness, 
and in audience sympathy and interest. 

Edward Arnold gives a smooth per- 
formance as the gangster’s personal at- 
torney, though the part is not clearly 
motivated. Throughout the play we 
are led to believe, especially by his 
whimsical attitude, that the attorney, a 
cultivated man, is interested in seeing a 
change brought about in the gross fel- 
low, while all the time he is plotting 
vengeance. Edmund Gwenn is excellent 
as a butler and confident, and Reginald 
Owen and E. E. Clive are others well 
cast. 

Richard Thorpe's strongest work is 
the handling of Montgomery in the 
scenes preceding and during the trial, 
when the gangster is struck dumb by 
the turn of circumstances. There is 
much force here, and it is not the re- 
sponsibility of the director if the scenes 
contrast markedly in tone with earlier 
ones. Cedric Gibbons and his associates 
have made handsome and expansive 
sets, which exude tradition. Photogra- 
phy also is well handled. 

A story of originality and cleverness, 
though more could have been done with 
it. [he atmosphere of the English 
countryside and of a great castle is most 
engaging. Students will be interested 
in the setting forth of the significance 
of rank and tradition in the British 
social system, as well as in the staging 
of an elaborate court ceremony. 

k Warner Brothers produce more than 
50 short subjects each year. 


Eyes Examined AND Glasses ¥ it ted 


DEVER D. GRAY, OPT. D. 

...OPTOMETRIST... 


1725 North Highland Avenue 
Hollywood, California 
HEmpstead 8438 


Paroled Convicts ’ 


Problems Depicted 

INVISIBLE STRIPES 
Warner Bros. -First National 


Hal B. Wallis 
Louis F. Edelman 
Warren Dulf 
Jonathan Finn 
Warden Lewis E. Lawes 
Lloyd Bacon 
Ernie Haller, ASC 
Max Parker 
James Gibbon 
Byron Haskin, ASC 
H. Roemheld 
Leo F. Forbstein 


Executive producer 
Associate producer 
Screen play 
From a story by 
Based on book by 
Director 

Director of photography 
Art director 
Film editor 
Special effects 
Music 

Musical director 
Cast: George Raft, Jane Bryan, William Hold- 
en, Humphrey Bogart, Flora Robson, Paul 
Kelly, Lee Patrick, Henry O'Neill, Frankie 
Thomas, Moroni Olsen, Margot Stevenson, 
Marc Lawrence, Joseph Downing, Leo Gor- 
cey, William Haade, Tully Marshall. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
THE Brethren Warner here present us 
I with another of their sociological- 
gangster dramas, which have become a 
forte of the organization. This one 
exposes the deplorably tough time con- 
victs have, assertedly, once they have 
paid their debt to society and are back 
in society’s lap. Society, we are told, 
is far from unanimously willing to 
consider the debt paid in full. There 
are other sociological problems touched 
upon, in especial the plight of a young 
mechanic, the convict’s brother, whose 
salary of $20 a week does not suffice for 
his getting married and contributing to 
the support of his mother, and who is 
thus tempted to take the wayward 
course. 


Those who are not especially con- 
cerned with sociological problems per se 
will find the present study entails plen- 
ty of melodrama to divert them, in- 
cluding the usual group gun battle at 
the finale, with any number of corpses 
left strewn about. 


His Trails Seem Overdrawn 

•J Source of the story material is a book 
by Warden Lewis Lawes, who certain- 
ly should be an authority on the vicis- 
situdes of ex-cons, and if I were sure 
the plight of the fellow as here depicted 
is just as it is recounted in the warden’s 
book, not a syllable of incredulity 
would leave my pen. It would seem, 
though, that Jonathan Finn has com- 
plicated the released convict’s existence 
a bit in drafting his story. 

Individual ex-cons may have en- 
countered fellowmen as prevalently cal- 
lous and belligerent as this man does, 
but his appears to be set forth as a rep- 
resentative case, and it does not strike 
us as representative. There is undoubt- 
edly truth in the assertion that employ- 
ers do not cooperate as fully as they 
should in rehabilitating the convict, yet 
it is generally known that a large per- 


centage oi n rei i 

become repu tie c ,ne 

have risen to ii. flu 

Some Good Performa;^.. . 

•I The show is well piayeu. Director 
Lloyd Bacon has brought to the screen 
with full force the melodramatic punch 
of the screen play. There is to be seen, 
too, a sequence of exceptional freshness 
and tenderness between the young me- 
chanic and the girl he would marry, 
given a touch of poetry by Writer War- 
ren Duff and directed with simplicity 
and sincerity. That the lad’s eventual 
ownership of a garage is made possible 
through money stolen by his brother 
may leave sticklers for ethics not alto- 
gether satisfied at the conclusion. It is 
logical enough, though, homo sapiens 
being what he is. 

George Raft and Humphrey Bogart 
are in good acting fettle. Jane Bryan 
is appealing, and it is evident that Wil- 
liam Holden is no flash in the pan, here 
manifesting a good deal of promise. 
Flora Robson as the mother gives us 
some of those bright and shining mo- 
ments which only occasionally illumine 
the screen. Ernie Haller’s photography 
is excellent and H. Roemheld has work- 
ed an effective musical theme into his 
score, which has much of “big city” 
feeling. Leo Forbstein directed it. • 

Another Warner sociological-gangster 
drama, with both elements treated vig- 
orously. I' he playing is good. A merit 
of the film is its emphasizing the fact 
that employers do not cooperate as they 
should in the rehabilitation of excon- 
victs, though the trials of the released 
prisoner in the picture seem overdrawn. 
Too grim and ballistic for the children. 


McCarthy Funny , 


Story Inadequate 


CHARLIE McCarthy. DETECTIVE. Universal 


Producer-director Frank Tuttle 

Associate producer Jerry Sackheim 

Screen play: Edward Eliscu, Harold Shumate, 
Richard Mack. 

Original story Robertson White, Darrell Ware 
Director of photography: George Robinson. 


ASC. 

Art director 
Film editor 
Musical director 
Musical score 


Jack Otterson 
Bernard Burton 
Charles Previn 
Frank Skinner 


Cast: Robert Cummings, Constance Moore, 

John Sutton, Louis Calhern, Edgar Kennedy, 
Samuel S. Hinds, Harold Huber, Warren Hy- 
mer, Ray Turner. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 


G ETS pretty silly. Of course, cooking 
up a starring vehicle for such irregu- 
lar personalities as Charlie McCarthy 
and Mortimer Snerd must have been a 
task, yet it seems a more substantial 


PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


y c ?<: 
thi 1 


, been r.'vTntrived than 
ard abstruse de- 
1 rv“s seems to be some 
va. , , . . J -p : nion between the five 
contributing authors as to just what 
should be done with the material, what 
attitude should be assumed toward the 
story. Asking the spectator to take a 
serious interest in a murder at one mo- 
ment and then throwing plausibility to 
the four winds at another, is something 
like mixing ice and warm water. 


Thward the end, plot apparently 
having run thin, there is a prolonged 
free-for-all fight, as slapstick as they 
come. Here again, we are expected to 
be concerned over certain characters es- 
caping death at the hands of gangsters, 
while at times the brawl appears to be 
a travesty. 


Dummy or Entity? 

<3 Nor is it any too clear just how 
we are supposed to accept McCarthy, 
whether he is really just a dummy and 
the mouthpiece of Bergen, or whether 
he is an entity. Most of the time the 
former appears to be the case, though 
later on Charlie speaks when alone. 
Mortimer Snerd is on his own through- 
out. Charlie delivers himself in his 
usual tickling and captivating way, and 
a song number he does at the opening 
of the picture is fine fun. If his routine 
of gags is not quite as mirthful as it 
has bem on some earlier appearances, he 
gets off a goodly number of bons mots. 
It is more the way Charlie says a thing 
than what he says that is funny, inci- 
dentally. One of his best responses 
comes from something like, "I like the 
rich. They are so kind to the poor,” 
which does not sound like much in the 
telling. 

Robert Cummings plays in his usual 
spirited way, but has little to work 
with. Constance Moore is competent, 
warbles pleasantly. John Sutton and 
Louis Calhern are efficient. Frank Tut- 
tle produced and directed. 

The story is pretty much shoddy, 
runs into considerable silliness. Charlie 
McCarthy may somewhat redeem the 
picture for you, though. As always, he 
provokes a good many chuckles. All 
ripht for the children. 


Printing 

Mimeographing 

Muitigraphing 

Typeing 

JEANNE EDWARDS 

1655 North Cherokee 
(at Hollywood Blvd.) 

HEmpstead 1969 


Musical Portions 

Unusually Good 

SWANEE RIVER, Twentieth Century-Fox 

Director Sidney Lanfield 

Associate producer Kenneth Macgowan 

Screen play John Taintor Foote, Philip Dunne 
Director of photography Bert Glennon, ASC 
Dances staged by: Nicholas Castle, Geneva 

Sawyer. 

Art director. Richard Day, Joseph C. Wright 
Set decorations Thomas Little 

Film editor Louis Loeffler 

Costumes Royer 

Sound W. D. Flick, Roger Heman 

Musical director Louis Silvers 

Cast: Don Ameche, Andrea Leeds, A1 Jolson, 
Felix Bressart, Chick Chandler, Russell Hicks, 
George Reed, Hall Johnson Choir, Richard 
Clarke, Diane Fisher, Charles Halton, George 
Breakstone, A1 Herman, Charles Trowbridge, 
George Meeker, Leona Roberts, Charles Tan- 
nen, Harry Hayden, Clara Blandick, Nella 
Walker, Esther Dale. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

A MUSICAL based on the life of Ste- 
/i phen Foster, rather than a biography 
of the composer in a strict sense, is 
Swanee River. The story, viewed as an 
instrumentality for assembling a concert 
of Foster’s songs, worked in with the 
salient facts of his life, is a rather in- 
genious job. The most rewarding parts 
of the picture, though, are the musical 
numbers. Done in Technicolor, on an 
elaborate scale, and given fine orchestral 
and vocal interpretation, at least for the 
most part, the numbers richly character- 
ize spreading America of the past cen- 
tury. 

Never has greater human feelings, 
pathos and exultation alike, been mani- 
fest in Foster’s songs. That they so 
reach the heart tell us that the phase 
of our national life for which they 
spoke is by no means over; we are still 
in it. 

Foster Is Not Realized 

<3 In the story, however, despite several 
dramatic incidents, we do not get enough 
of Foster the man. This is not alto- 
gether an adverse criticism of the play. 
Indeed, the play is not altogether re- 
sponsible for the final effect. The per- 
formances and. to some extent, the di- 
rection are contributing factors. As for 
the play, however, John Taintor Foote 
and Philip Dunne had a choice of writ- 
ing an authentic, detailed biography of 
Foster or of using an account of his life 
merely as the basis for a musical pro- 
duction. and they chose the latter course. 
And not without good reason. It is 
generally known that Foster’s life was 
not a happy or a savory one — and 
heaven knows the producers have elect- 
ed to give us enough grim dram in these 
troublous times. 

Seems to me, though, that somewhat 
of a better balance could have been 


struck between realism and fancy, that 
there could have been a little more 
biographical penetration. Throughout 
most of this picture Foster lives a happy 
and successful, indeed gilded, existence. 
If not delving far into the inner process- 
es of a man, it seems to me a biographic- 
al work should at least reflect the es- 
sential tone of a man’s life. 

Two "Toots" and She Leaves 

*J In one instance the soft-pedalling re- 
sults in an unintended effect. There are 
only two occasions during his married 
life on which the composer resorts to 
heavy drink, both motivated by severe 
disappointments. That Andrea Leeds, 
his wife, leaves him after the second in- 
cident makes her appear rather smug 
and heartless. This impression is some- 
what mitigated later on, when it is 
brought out that he has been an habit- 
ual heavy drinker, which should have 
been done earlier. 

Attributing his death to a heart at- 
tack is permissible cinematic license, 
doubtless for the best. If memory serves 
aright, Foster took his own life. How- 
ever, the authors have rather cleverly 
left an opening for personal interpre- 
tation in the episode. 

A1 Jolson Registers Strongly 

C| As for the performances, the accolade 
must go to A1 Jolson, who finds one of 
the best parts he has had for a long 
time in E. P. Christy, a noted minstrel 
man of the day, and makes a good deal 
of it. His portrayal of the mannered 
minstrel star is often very amusing, but 
Jolson’s chief contribution to the picture 
is his warm rendition of the Foster 
songs. Jolson is in black-face again dur- 
ing his numbers, working in the style 
that is his forte, that made him famous. 

Don Ameche, seen as the composer, 
is capable in a technical way, brings a 
good deal of sincerity and emotional 
force to the part: and yet — for me, at 
least — he was not Foster. The work 
of those in other departments may have 
some bearing on this impression, still 
Ameche does not strike me as being well 
cast in the part. He is best in lighter, 
modern things. Andrea Leeds is not 
strong in her role. Her work needs more 
accentuation. Felix Bressart. Chick 
Chandler, George Reed, and Russell 
Hicks do well in prominent parts. 

Striped Trousers Effective 

CJ Sidney Lanfield has put a good flow 
into the action, and, on the whole, has 
pointed the emotional values of the 
story very effectively. The musical score 
and direction of Louis Silvers do much 
to build emotional effects, particularly, 
of course, in the musical numbers them- 
selves. In these portions the Techni- 
color photography is a definite enhance- 
ment. Shots of the Hall Johnson Choir 
rendering Old Black Joe about the grave 
of Old Joe are striking. Natalie Kalmus. 


JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE FIVE 



Technicolor director, can certainly stick 
a feather in her hat for the minstrel 
scene in which a row of dancers, in 
trousers with red stripes, perform in 
unison — one of the most effective em- 
ployments of color on the screen I have 
witnessed. Little has been done toward 
using color in a rhythmical way. Bert 
Glennon was in charge of photography. 
If some of the interiors of Richard Day 
and Joseph Wright seem a little too 
ornate for the mood of the piece, they 
have done especially interesting work in 
recreating an old theatre of that day 
together with the settings for the min- 
strel show on view. 

As a musical production, the pic- 
ture has uncommon emotional force. 
Though scarcely penetrating as biogra- 
phy nor presenting a very vivid por- 
trait of Stephen Foster, the film cap- 
tures much of the spirit of American 
life in the past century. Never have 
Foster's songs been presented more stir- 
ringly. Study groups should find es- 
pecially interesting a scene in technicolor 
in which a row of minstrel dancers, 
with red stripes down their trousers, 
perform in unison, perhaps the first em- 
ployment of rhythm with color outside 
of the cartoon field. The re-creation of 
a 19th Century theatre and the staging 
of a minstrel should be interesting to 
students of the drama. 

La Heme Glamorous 
In Nezv Comedy Role 

EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT NIGHT 
Twentieth Century-Fox 

Director Irving Cummings 

Associate producer Harry Joe Brown 

Original screen play: Art Arthur, Robert 

Harari. 

Director of photography: Edward Conjager, 

ASC. 

Art directors Richard Day, Albert Hogsett 
Film editor Walter Thompson 

Skating numbers staged by Nicholas Castle 
Musical director Cyril J. Mockridge 

Cast: Sonja Henie, Ray Milland, Robert Cum- 
mings, Maurice Moscovich, Leonid Kinskey, 
Alan Dinehart, Fritz Feld, Jody Gilbert, Victor 
Varconi, William Edmunds, George Davis, 
Paul Porcasi, Michael Visaroff, Eleanor Wes- 
selhoeft, Lester Matthews, Christian Rub, Fer- 
dinand Munier, Holmes Herbert, Roger Imhol, 
Rolfe Sedan, Frank Reicher, John Bleifer. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

S NOW and quaint Swiss dwellings 
and gay costumes again create their 
spell in Everything Flappens at Night, 
the new Sonja Henie offering. The pic- 
ture has a beguiling sparkle and sprite- 
liness. Not quite everything happens at 
night, though; fact is, the most im- 
portant episodes transpire during sunlit 
hours. A stickler for accuracy, this Har- 
len person, especially with respect to 
titles. 

The plot itself is nothing very novel, 
but, as Editor Beaton has pointed out, 


any story can be made entertaining by 
the treatment of it. Around the situa- 
tion of two reporters out for the same 
story, as well as for the same girl, some 
amusing by-situations have been spun, 
and the whole is studded with tricksy 
dialogue. It is all escapist drama of the 
first water, but it achieves its objectives 
quite successfully. 

Skating Number Outstanding 

A highlight of the picture is the fea- 
ture skating number of Sonja Henie, 
which, it seems to me, is the loveliest 
number she has ever done. A stately 
Viennese-type palace is the setting, from 
the vast frozen floor of which rises a 
row of great pillars. In and out of these 
she skates. Much of the music is from 
Strauss, though some rumba music and 
other strains are interpolated. The skat- 
er has never been more scintillating, 
more flexible of facial play, than here. 
Seems she presents a few new maneuv- 
ers in her routine, too. 

The Hollywood crafts of make-up, 
lighting and costuming have certainly 
worked their wonders in the case of La 
Henie. In some scenes here she is rather 
ravishingly comely. The comedy scenes 
she carries off with considerable zest 
and variety. In the heavier portions she 
is satisfactory, if a little taxed. 

Cast Is Strong 

<J Robert Cummings' buoyant comedy 
performance, as one of the reporters, 
gained him high favor with the audi- 
ence. He is certainly showing Holly- 
wood what he can do these days. The 
droll essayal of Ray Milland, the com- 
peting journalist, also contributes im- 
portantly to the success of the picture. 
There is a strong and lengthy support- 
ing cast, notable among whom are 
Maurice Moscovich, Alan Dinehart, 
Fritz Feld, in another of his diverse 
characterizations, and Victor Varconi. 
Leonid Kinskey is subtle, but for the 
life of me I cannot seem to recall what 
he was in the story for. 

Indeed, there is more than one facet 
of the yarn it would be just as well not 
to examine too closely. For one thing, 
Cummings’ sending out the story to the 
world that the girl’s father, a Nobel 
prize winner, believed to have been as- 
sassinated but really in seclusion in the 
mountains, is still alive, and then with 
much alarm doing everything to help 
the man escape from his enemies, ap- 
parently the Nazis. It appears that the 
old man's predicament would have oc- 
curred to him beforehand. On its face, 
though, the situation seems to present 
no unsurmountable dramaturgic dif- 
ficulties, and I am surprised Art Arthur 
and Robert Harari did not manage it 
better. Moreover, Milland’s out-and-out 
theft of Cummings’ scoop puts him 
pretty much in the light of a skunk. 

Men's Costumes Dazzle 

Cjj Most of the picture, though, as I said, 


prison 

is in a light an some 

Irving Cummir, 
points the humor . 
skating numbers, men. r ere 

staged by Nicholas Castle, t L- . a ing 
portions are in good balance with the 
story, an arrangement which might 
well be followed in succeeding films — 
one feature number and a shorter in- 
formal exhibition. Photography by 
Edward Conjager warrants mention, 
and certainly does the costuming by 
Royer. You should see what gentlemen 
are wearing in the Alps this season — 
flowing silk affairs that look like pa- 
jamas, and bushy feathers in their hats 
and everything. These journalists cer- 
tainly take along a wardrobe. 

It has gay atmosphere, some divert- 
ing humor, and the incomparable skat- 
ing of Sonja Henie, seen here in perhaps 
her loveliest number. Very much escap- 
ist drama, but beguihngly so. Aside 
from the “ poetry in motion,” good for 
the souls of everybody . there is nothing 
especially in the picture to call to the 
attention of study groups, except to 
observe the wonders Hollywood crafts 
of make-up. lighting and costuming 
have worked with the skating star, who 
is super- glamorous in numerous scenes. 

Gulliver's Travels 
Satiric In Theme 

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, Paramount 

Producer Max Fleischer 

Director Dave Fleischer 

Screen play: Dan Gordon, Cal Howard, Ted 
Pierce, Izzy Sparber, Edmond Seward. 
Adaptation of Jonathan Swift's tale: Edmond 
Seward. 

Scenics: Erich Schenk, Robert Little, Louis 

Jambor, Shane Miller. 

Directors of animation: Seymour Kneitel, 

Willard Bowsky, Tom Palmer, Grim Nat- 
wick, William Henning, Roland Crandall, 
Tom Johnson, Robert Leffingwell, Frank 
Kelling, Winfield Hoskins, Orestes Calpini. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

HERE is much diverting fancy in the 
new feature length color cartoon 
Gulliver’s Travels, produced by Max 
Fleischer. There are beautifully colored 
vistas, many droll little characters, a 
dream-world pair of lovers, and by 
gum. some philosophy too. The g'ant 
Gulliver sees the foibles of these little 
people, their hot-headedness, irration- 
ality, and suspicion much in the same 
light that an omnipotent mind would 
see the vain wranglings of peoples of 
our earth today. 

It will be recalled that Swift's tale 
was written with satiric intent, though, 
ironically, the work is now more wide- 
ly read by children. In the film two 
rulers of the little folk lead their re- 
spective peoples into war because it can- 
not be agreed which song will be sung 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


yatn ! ing ween a son 

thi) :wo houses. 

r 2\ ’* 

w a ‘cmparison 

<J i mg the second feature length 

cartoon, however, comparisons between 
it and Disney’s Snow White and the 
Seven Dwarfs inevitably will be made. 
The present picture, though entertain- 
ing, does not approach the earlier one in 
artistic merit. The Disney genius — and 
here is one person in Hollywood to 
whom the much abused term can legiti- 
mately be applied — is plainly lacking. 

For one thing the animation does not 
have the finesse it had in Snow White. 
Movements, especially the broader ones, 
are sometimes so jerky and rapid as to 
be just the least bit annoying. If the 
production budget necessitated the use 
of fewer stills, it would seem that it 
would have been better to use less of 
the broad gestures. The texture of the 
film much of the time is similar to that 
in the Fleischer short subjects, and some- 
how in a feature film we expect more. 

Much Time Given to Byplay 

More could have been done with the 
story. The Swift yarn does not appear 
to possess less potentialities than Snow 
White. The seven dwarfs, after all, were 
Disney’s own creations. Characters in 
Gulliver's Travels are not as individual. 
Moreover, rather too much time is given 
over to byplay. The tying up of Gulli- 
ver and transporting him to the city 
occupies too much time, suspends plot 
movement. Many of the gags are of 
the more obvious type — people turning 
purple in the face or disappearing into 
the distance like a lightning streak. 

Nevertheless, the picture succeeds in 
putting across a valuable thesis — that 
all our woes could be obviated if we 
only used our heads instead of our im- 
pulses; and it has moments of striking 
visual loveliness and considerable tic- 
kling whimsy. One of the most im- 
pressive scenes in the film, “directed’’ 
by Dave Fleischer, is the slow funereal 
movement of the great prostrate Gul- 
liver over the countryside, carted by the 
Lilliputians. Another good scene is 
Gulliver’s nostalgic singing of his de- 
sire for his homeland, alone at the sea- 
side, some rhythmic shots of the waves 
being worked into the sequence. The 
mus'cal numbers are one of the best 
features of the production, and several 
of the songs should be on the hit list. 

This second of the feature cartoons 
is diverting, it presents a good deal of 
whimsy, visual beauty, engaging music, 
and succeeds in putting across a timely 
and socially important theme. Do not 
approach it expecting it to measure up 
to Snow White, however. 


★ Short subjects now being produced 
by the major studios frequently cost 
as high as $45,000 to $50,000. 


Of Mice And Men 
Is Starkly Grim 

OF MICE AND MEN. Hal Roach 

Producer-director . Lewis Milestone 

Associate producer Frank Ross 

Screen play Eugene Solow 

Director of photography: Norbert Brodine. 

ASC. 

Photographic effects Roy Seawright 

Editor Bert Jordan 

Art director Nicolai Remisoff 

Interior decorator W. L. Stevens 

Sound recorder William Randall 

Musical score Aaron Copland 

Conductor Irvin Talbot 

Cast: Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Lon 

Chaney, Jr., Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, 
Bob Steele, Noah Beery, Jr., Granville Bates, 
Oscar O'Shea, Leigh Whipper. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

S EVERAL of my confreres fell to 
talking in the lobby after the pre- 
view, myself being one of the group, 
and it was generally agreed that Of 
Mice and Men would either be a box- 
office flop or a hit. No in between. It 
is as starkly grim as anything the 
screen has presented. One woman mem- 
ber of the group said she thought she 
had seen everything in nerve-depleting 
dramas in The Elunchback of Notre 
Dame, but that on the present occasion 
she was utterly spent. 

From several aspects Of Mice and 
Men is an admirable presentation. It 
is searching, it is honest, its two main 
protagonists are as individual, alive, 
richly compounded as any figures to 
turn up in dramatic literature during 
recent years. Whether the film will 
please everyone or not, I think the 
screen is benefited by the production of 
the piece. 

Its Production Inevitable 

<J Not that any bouquets for courage 
or farsightedness are due Producer Hal 
Roach. The book was widely read, the 
play a New York success — in fact, 
chosen as the best play of the year by 
the New York critics — and the story 
would have been brought to the screen 
irrespective of its subject matter. It is 
evident, moreover, that had the story 
been presented to any studio as an or- 
iginal, it would have got past the first 
reader. 

John Steinbeck’s tale of the strange 
attachment between two lonely ranch 
hands, one a little fellow with the 
brains, the other a great brute with a 
feeble mind, is by now pretty generally 
known. In his direction Lewis Mile- 
stone has given numerous impressive 
cinematic touches to the piece, and yet 
the film, screen-played by Eugene So- 
low, follows very closely the stage play 
of George S. Kaufman, even to the in- 
tact inclusion of a sequence in which 
an old man is persuaded to let his faith- 
ful dog be shot, his only friend, for it 


too is old and smells, a scene with force 
but slightly too long for what it ac- 
complishes with respect to the play as 
a whole. 

Is Abysmally Depressing 

<J “The best laid schemes o’ mice and 
men oft go astray,” from Robert Burns, 
provides both the title and the theme 
of the play. The theme is given ob- 
ject illustration among the characters; 
George, the great brute Lennie, and the 
old man do not get the farm and inde- 
pendence they have dreamed of; Lennie 
does not get to feed the rabbits, only a 
bullet into his feeble brain; the pretty, 
capricious wife of the ranch owner’s son 
does not go to Hollywood, but death 
strikes suddenly at her too. It is all as 
near to being tragedy, in the sense of 
the traditional dramatic genre, as any- 
thing you will have seen on the screen. 
It will leave you abysmally depressed, 
a bad taste in your mouth. Yet it will 
have given you a strange stimulation 
too. 

I specified tragedy as a dramatic 
genre, because, according to the theor- 
ists, a dramatist is entitled to assume, 
in that form, as lugubrious an attitude 
toward life as he cares to, and the whole 
is supposed to have a “cathartic’’ effect 
on the spectator. The motion picture, 
however, is essentially a realistic me- 
dium, and the present picture undoubt- 
edly will be scored in some quarters — 
especially by California chamber of 
commerce groups — for its violation of 
strict representation both with respect 
to life on a California ranch and with 
respect to life in general. Plainly Stein- 
beck is prone to look on the darker side 
of things, a propensity observable in 
his other works too. 

Of George and Lennie 

<fl Performances also seem to follow 
closely the interpretations given on the 
stage, a bit too much so on occasion. 
Burgess Meredith is excellent as George, 
the brain of the duo. His work is re- 
strained, thoughtful. Lon Chaney, Jr., 
is a good type for Lennie, many of his 
scenes make telling photographic com- 
positions, and at times his whole per- 
formance rises to peaks of power, espe- 
cially in the scene where, urged by 
George, he turns against the ranch own- 
er’s son, who has been pelting him in 
the face, catches the fellow’s hand in 
mid air and squeezes it till the bones 
crumble — a horrible business. 

At other times, though, Chaney is 
too broad, and especially in scenes'which 
called for simplicity. This detracts from 
the effectiveness of the film. As George 
says of Lennie, “He’s dumb, but not 
crazy.” Chaney part of the time makes 
him all but a maniac. The actor has a 
great deal to work with, and these por- 
tions of overstress may impress many, 
but the fact remains that, for the dis- 


JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE SEVEN 


cerning. there is a difference between 
acting and acting up. 

Salty Language Not Missed 

•I Betty Field, the young wife, charac- 
terizes vividly, though some of her 
scenes might have been modified slightly 
without loss of vividness. The same 
could be said for Roman Bohnen, 
though his performance as the old fel- 
low is certainly touching. Charles Bick- 
ford. Bob Steele, and others of the cast 
do well. 

One does not miss the salty language 
of the book and play. The cinema me- 
dium emphasizes other elements with 
compensating effect. It would have 
been more artistic treatment if the speech 
of Candy’s about once visiting "a dance 
hall" had been altered entirely instead 
of being left with ambiguous sense. 
Director Milestone has handled the scene 
of the girl’s murder remarkably well, 
better, in fact, than I had imagined it 
could be done on the screen, terrible but 
not repulsive. Only her feet are shown, 
raised from the ground during the inci- 
dent. Then her body slumps. 

Musical Score a Big Asset 

•I Another good directorial touch is 
having characters disappear behind a 
barn and emerge again on the other side, 
their conversation unbroken, though 
some greater care could have been given 
the relationship between the volume of 
the voices and their distance from the 
camera. The opening of the film, in- 
cidentally, sets some kind of a record 
with respect to preludes of action before 
a title and credits appear. An entire epi- 
sode is enacted before the title comes. 

Art direction by Nicolai Remisoff is 
of a high order, as is the photography 
of Norbert Brodine, with special effects 
by Roy Seawright. Still, I question the 
use of the sepia tone film, or at least 
such an intensity of the tone. Seems to 
me it gets in the way of illusion, mak- 
ing us now and then conscious of the 
mechanics by which the drama is being 
presented. Moreover, the play is suffi- 
ciently heavy of mood without it. 

Aaron Copland has written a mu- 
sical score that is an integral part of the 
drama and which, imaginatively con- 
ducted by Irvin Talbot, does much to 
build the dramatic effectiveness of many 
scenes. I encountered Dr. Ussher in the 
lobby afterwards, who seemed much 
pleased over this phase of the production 
and doubtless will write something 
about it. 

Very substantial cinema, forceful of 
theme, vivid in characterization. Ex- 
cellently. though not superbly, done. 
Study groups will find considerable to 
opine about in the treatment of the 
material, especially with respect to the 
heavy reliance on the stage production 
for the screen play and in the perform- 
ances. Not objectionable for the chil- 


dren on moral grounds, but there are 
happier subjects for young minds to 
contemplate. 


Crooked-Nice Hero 


Seems Out-Of-Date 


RAFFLES, United Artists 
Producer Samuel Goldwyn 

Director Sam Wood 

Screen play by: John Van Druten, Sidney 

Howard. 

Based upon "The Amateur Cracksman," by 
E. W. Hornung. 

Cinematographer Gregg Toland, ASC 

Art director James Basevi 

Musical director Victor Young 

Film editor Sherman Todd 


Cast: David Niven, Olivia DeHavilland, Dame 
May Whitty, Dudley Digges, Douglas Wal- 
ton, Lionel Pape, E. E. Clive, Peter Godfrey, 
Margaret Seddon, Gilbert Emery, Hilda Plow- 
right, Vesey O'Davoren, George Cathrey, 
Keith Hitchcock. 


Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

4 S SMOOTHLY running, subtle, and 
suspensive a piece of filmic detective 
machinery as you will have seen, but I, 
for one, could not get a great deal of 
theatric satisfaction out of it. With all 
the chaos, slaughter, and misery now 
rampant in the world as a result of dis- 
regard for law, I found it just a bit 
annoying to be asked again to take an 
interest in a crook who is really a nice 
fellow. This type of character, how- 
ever successful in the past, seems out of 
joint with present audience psychology. 
This is my impression. If you are an 
individual for whom gentlemen crooks 
still hold a fascination, you certainlv 
will be charmed by Mr. Raffles, who is 
olayed with the nth degree of finesse by 
David Niven. 

However deftly screen-played by John 
Van Druten and Sidney Howard, the 
story is without the asset of originality. 
Whether E. W. Hornung’s The Ama- 
teur Cracksman has been done before 
on the screen I cannot recollect, but the 
incidents have a reminiscent ring and 
some of the byplay consists in cliches, 
to-wit, “Won’t you be seated?” after 
the detective has already sat down. 


He Has No Bid for Sympathy 

•J Cons’derable endeavor is made to 
humanize Raffles, bestowing him with 
a conscience, having him charitable to 
old ladies, having him resolve to sin 
no more upon learning of a fair one’s 
care for him, but I was not convinced, 
nor. what is more, even inclined to ac- 
cept the fellow. I was. as stated, a bit 
annoyed at being asked to accept his 
disregard for law as glamorous. I am 
not saying that all crook-heroes are 
washed up. But Raffles has no bid for 
our sympathy. He does not come from 
under-privileged stock; he is a gentle- 
man with a good education and excel- 
lent contacts and perfectly able to earn 
an honest living. 

Be that as it may, Sam Goldwyn has 


given the : u -n. 

The backg, . • am 

Wood’s directic,. „ a De- 

Havilland plays v- 

pecting sweetheart of the ver mce-fel- 
low-crook, and Dame May Whitty and 
Dudley Digges perform skilfully, as do 
several fellow members of the cast. 

A deftly done crook drama, but the 
hero-crook seems a little outmoded and 
a little irritating, what with the results 
of disregard for law tragically evident 
in the world today. 

Powerful Picture 


PCith Poor Title 

THOU SHALT NOT KILL. Republic Pictures 
Associate producer Robert North 

Director John H. Auer 

Screen play Robert Presnell 

Original story George Carleton Brown 

Production manager A1 Wilson 

Photographer Jack Marta 

Supervising editor Murray Seldeen 

Film editor Ernest Nims 

Art director John Victor Mackay 

Musical director . Cy Feuer 

Cast: Charles Bickford, Owen Davis, Jr., Doris 
Day, Paul Guilfoyle, Granville Bates, Charles 
Waldron, Sheila Bromley, George Chandler, 
Charles Middleton, Emmett Vogan, Leona 
Roberts, Ethel May Halls, Edmund Elton, El- 
sie Prescott. 

Reviewed by Robert Joseph 
AN UNFORTUNATE title spoils an 
/i otherwise splendid picture turned out 
by Republic Pictures. Here is an effort 
that tackles a religious problem of the 
Confessional without getting mawkish 
and sentimental — the usual approach 
of most pictures with a religious theme. 
I hou Shalt Not Kill emerges as a pow- 
erful picture of small town life through 
the efforts of Charles Bickford as the 
kindly and understanding Reverend 
Chris, and Owen Davis, Jr. as the town 
rowdy who comes to a full realization 
of his position in the community. Paul 
Guilfoyle turns in an admirable per- 
formance as a real murderer whose con- 
science torments him. Sheila Bromley 
is a fine and capable actress who should 
go far. She made a very unsympathetic 
part real. Doris Day shows her lack of 
experience, but more action before the 
camera should make her a fine actress. 

Good Direction 

Director John Auer did a creditable 
job on this picture, and turned in a 
moving film. He seems to have been 
hampered by some roughish cutting by 
Murray Seldeen, and his story does not 
flow as smoothly as it might have with 
additional paring here and there. This is 
no reflection of the director's work, but 
rather an indication of the cutter’s haste 
in turning out his work. The dissolves 
and wipes might have been made to 
better advantage and overlong scenes 
might have been clipped at the propi- 
tious dramatic moment. Auer gave the 
editor the material: but he didn't see it. 


RAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


^)h o and jftA tftakerA 


Are We Deaf’ 

•1 Once more it proves difficult to do 
justice to a picture in which music is 
not only highly important, as in the 
feature-length Gulliver’s Travels (pro- 
duced by the Fleischer brothers for 
Paramount), but when Victor Young’s 
music emphasized the mood so definite- 
ly by means of tone color. A review is 
rendered difficult because of that stupid 
custom of playing preview perform- 
ances as if they took place in an asylum 
for the deaf. This happened for the 
second time within three days at the 
Westwood Village Theatre. Really it 
is high time the music-makers of Hol- 
lywood should do something about this 
crude way of trying to impress a pre- 
view audience. Are they afraid indi- 
vidually to protest? Perhaps they are 
only prudent. But they should and 
could do something collectively, I fancy, 
through the Academy. This unintelli- 
gent practice of playing by far the larg- 
est part of the film noisily repeatedly 
blurred the dialogue. I happened to at- 
tend several of the Gulliver orchestra 
recordings (conducted by Young), and 
what was then cleverly illustrative in- 
strumentation, had been turned at length 
into monotonous, tinny, raucous clatter. 
It was disgusting. 

Seven Songs 

•I Notwithstanding this abominably 
vulgar manner of presentation, Gulli- 
ver's Travels was cordially received 
with laughter and applause during and 
after the showing. The impression 
would have been stronger yet, if some of 
Victor Young’s clever melodic and 
rhythmic juxtapositions could have been 
heard clearly. I did not get much of an 
impression from some of the songs, of 
which there are no less than seven. It’s 
a Hap- Hap Happy Day was written by 
Sam Timberg, A1 Neiburg and Winston 
Sharpies. The following six tunes and 
lyrics are by Rainger and Robins: 
Faithful, Forever, I Hear a Dream, 
We’re All Together Now, All’s Well, 
Bluebirds In the Moonlight and Faith- 
ful Forever. The Hap-Hap Happy Day 
and All’s Well are gusty and readily 
appealing tunes. Jessica Dragonette was 
heard when Princess Glory sings. She 
always sounds pleasing on the radio and 
no doubt does on this occasion, although 
her first song is spoiled by a queer trem- 
olo. ,Lanny Ross lent his voice to 
Prince David and did well. 

Music for Moods 

•I Drawing on my impressions gained 
at recordings as well as during this imi- 
tation of a boiler factory, I give high 
praise to Victor Young for writing mu- 
sic which intensifies the mood and which 


not merely clicks with the action in 
Gulliver’s Travels. That is an addi- 
tion to music for cartoon not found 
often. I liked particularly his music of 
the waves, for the sunrise at the end of 
the scene when Gulliver has been trans- 
ported to the palace. Very good, too, 
is the first alarm music as Gabby rouses 
the town of Lilliput after he has found 
the “giant.” Amusing and ingenious is 
music when the Lilliputians tie up and 
hoist the sleeping Gulliver. (Much of 
this staccato hammering and bustling 
about became tedious owing to over- 
loud reproduction.) Really entertaining 
is the music for the spies and for Bom- 
bo’s bird messenger. 

Young has created a score of genuine, 
original humor, waxing at times de- 
lightfully satirical, employing then or- 
chestral instruments with telling effect. 
There is also music of lyric charm and 
and it has, as well as the comic se- 
quences have, a reality of expression 
not usually accompanying animated 
scores. Heretofore chief effort most times 
has been limited to “hitting action on 
the nose,” i.e. , split-second accuracy of 
timing the music. But the entire pro- 
duction of Gulliver has rhythm and 
phrasing, and of that I shall speak in a 
later issue. Messrs. Fleischer and Young 
have made a distinct contribution to- 
ward filmic cartoon art and cartoon mu- 
sic of full feature length. 

Rulers of the Sea 

tj Far be it from me to take so experi- 
enced and successful a producer-director 
as Frank Lloyd to task, but I believe 
strongly that he has given his composer, 
the eminent Richard Hageman not 
enough scope for underscoring in Rulers 
of the Sea, toning down, and worse 
yet, eliminating music, where, I am sure, 
a composer of Hageman’s dramatic sen- 
sibilities, would have put some, had he 
been allowed to do so. This, of course, 
goes back to my old conviction, that 
the composer should sit in on the story 
and script conferences. 

To my thinking it is nothing won- 
derful to have the sound-effect depart- 
ment insert so-called realistic noises of 
pounding waves and swishing winds. 
Water and storm have a “soul,” they 
symbolize something which the com- 
poser can voice while writing hurricane 
music more convincing to the ear than 
what I would like to call sound-mon- 
tage, i.e., a bit of recorded realism. 

I will go back for a moment to the 
statement that the screen is essentially 
a pictorial art. No one can deny that, 
and it follows then that the composer 
should be allowed to be the sound- 
pictorialist. What picture-strengthening 
music Hageman might have written if 


BY 

BRUNO DAVID USSHER 

music had taken the place of so much 
“realistic” engine noise in the boiler 
room scenes! 

Too Restrained 

<| Right or wrong, Director Lloyd’s 
Scotch folk in Rulers of the Sea are 
outwardly curbed of emotion, except for 
matters of temperament not limited to 
that finely stern race. That limits a 
composer, especially one as honest as 
Hageman. He relates his music as a 
good bookbinder adjusts the all-round 
calibre of a binding to the contents, not 
that music is an “outside” thing in re- 
lation to the screen. 

Hageman has devised a lovely and at 
times strong score, circumstances per- 
mitting. He employs such themes as 
Loch Lomond and My Love Is Like A 
Red, Red Rose, giving his music the 
tang of Scotland, where the wind is per- 
fumed with thyme and salt. Some im- 
portant scenes, as the first farewell on 
the dock, are also left without music. 
On occasions one gains an impression 
of abrupt picture cutting and unprepar- 
ed musical entries. The violin solo in 
the death scene is an obviously senti- 
mental concession in a score which 
otherwise rings true thematically and 
is orchestrated despite evident subjuga- 
tions. There is sweeping power, tend- 
erness and humor. 

A Chance Missed 

<J More than once the Lloyd film cries 
out for music and the kind of music, 
humanly embracing and penetrating, 
which has made Hageman one of the 
top-ranking song-writers of today. But 
I have the feeling from this and a prev- 
ious film that Lloyd too often uses 
music as an auto manufacturer uses 
paint i.e., on the outside only. Hage- 
man has provided “bonny” music, apart 
from actually using two or three folk 
songs as Land of Leal, You Take the 
High Way. His incidental sequences, 
too, have the highland tang. Broad 
and rolling as his sweeping seascapes 
are, he is quaintly droll of melody and 
orchestration in the humorous scenes. 

The girl is well silhouetted musical- 
ly in sharp, crisp outlines, and again 
with music of shyly withheld tender- 
ness. There is a catchy whistling tune, 
but right beneath this down-kept music 
one senses suppressed dramatic music 
of power. The storm music is not skil- 
ful fuss and feathers: the swells and 
smash are real. Hageman's orchestra- 
tion is distinctive for his thematic 
(theme carrying) instruments are not 
overshadowed by general effects of color 
and mood. His horns have something 
of the elementary force of the sea. There 
is force, too, in his throbbing, duly lab- 
oring heaving and pushing of ship’s 
engines. 


JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE NINE 


Tfcuth atuf the 'Jutufe cfi the Wwl4 


(Some months ago the Spectator 
published a personal letter from a young 
miss who in her childhood dubbed me 
“Uncle Welford." who did not get over 
it as she grew to young womanhood . 
and who would get in bad with me if 
she did. I could do with even a few 
more netces as charming and talented as 
Dorothea Hagedorn. daughter of Her- 
man Hagedorn. distinguished American 
poet and author, and my good friend. 
Dot writes me another letter, so bril- 
liant, discerning and timely, I can not 
deny Spectator readers the pleasure of 
reading it. — W.B.) 

EAR Uncle Welford: 

We are still talking about the great 
time we had at your palazzo the other 
evening. I hope you have recovered 
from the Hagedorn avalanche. Now 
that we have our own place in Pasa- 
dena you must come to see us very soon. 

To carry on from where time so 
rudely interrupted us the other evening; 
it certainly does seem as though more 
and more people were getting concern- 
ed about the youth of this country. The 
papers are full of what the older gen- 
eration thinks about us and wants for 
us (not to mention what we want for 
ourselves!) But then “youth" is a 
pretty vague term, come to think of it. 
Reminds me of a young cousin of mine 
who couldn't speak English very well 
and was trying to describe a fowl he 
had shot: "It’s something like chicken, 
more like goose — goes quack, quack." 

Most Important Thing 

<]| Anyway, bird, beast or fowl, the im- 
portant thing is certainly not what are 
we going to get, but what are we going 
to be. T here is no doubt that it is up 
to us what we are going to be remem- 
bered for. If our grandchildren have to 
read about the theories of a vague ob- 
long mass of demanding humanity in 
fifty years they will shut up shop. They 
will want to read of people who set 
their eyes on the impossible and did not 
die until they reached it. At least if 
they are anything like us. they will 
want that kind of ancestor. Don't you 
think ? 

If we are a lost generation, it will 
be our fault because with all our edu- 
cation we will not have learned how to 
think. 

When Direction Is Needed 

<1 Last summer I was over at MGM 
and they showed us a series of ten 
minute shorts of famous men. It was 
extraordinary how you grasped the life 
of a man and knew him at the end 
of ten minutes. It must have been be- 
cause the script writer had caught the 


theme of the man’s life and all the de- 
tails poured into the one service the 
man had given. It looks quite simple — 
life, doesn’t it? And certain decisions 
quite obvious when you look at them 
from the end of life. But it is at this 
beginning that you need direction. And 
yet, I thought, who are going to be the 
ones to create the raw material to make 
the ten-minute shorts of the future? 
— and the lives of such men as Pasteur 
and Zola? We can not go along living 
off the deeds of dead men, no matter 
how great they were. We must be great 
ourselves. 

Pretty Grim Business 

<1 The world certainly has stood on its 
ear since I last wrote you. Many of 
my friends are fighting. It must be a 
pretty grim business being youth over 
there in Europe now. You can not 
chose your future anymore. They have 
been in some savage battles. ... It 
seems hard to imagine them - — what 
they have become like. I have known 
them such a long time — we climbed 
mountains together in the summer and 
skied together in the winter, but after 
all they have seen, it seems as though 
they must have aged a hundred years. 
In war you lose your youth whether 
you die or not, I guess. 

But the majority of my friends over 
there are still free to fight in the other 
battle — the battle for Peace. I have 
heard they constitute a pretty stable 
element in their countries; panic-proof 
and propaganda-proof. But more than 
that, they are working like beavers. 
They have found out through experi- 
ence how labor and management can 
together build a new spirit in industry. 
They have found a new reason for 
homes to be united, and are uniting 
their own and others. They are bind- 
ing their people together to fight the 
enemies within — the greed and self- 
ishness that make for war. The whole 
idea is a couple of thousand of years 
old, but it is new to us and we have 
got a new world in which to work it. 

Their Theme for Living 

<1 These "youths" have found their 
theme for living and are going at it 
with the sureness as though they saw it 
all from the end. Whether they will 
be great or not remains to be seen. But 
already they have the gratitude of lead- 
ers in their nations. I wonder if you 
ever met Ole Dorph Jensen when he 
was over here this summer? He is a 
young sportsman from Denmark. He 
left here to go back to take part in the 
Scandinavian games when sportsmen 
from all the northern countries were 
going to take part. When he got there 


he discovered that the v. - had caused 
the officials to call the whole thing off. 

Ole determined they would have the 
games — not for the sport alone, but 
because it would be a means of helping 
unite the Nordic north to be reconcilers 
of the nations. For weeks, he fought 
practically single-handed. He travelled 
up and down Scandinavia, talked with 
heads of committees and inspired them 
to carry on. The games were played. 
At the start men from rival clubs spoke 
to the throngs. They said that if the 
north were truly to be "reconcilers of 
the nations” they would have to start 
at home and be reconciled themselves. 
Representatives from each country spoke, 
calling for the same qualities in nation- 
al life as were demanded in sports. The 
press was moved and the event stirred 
the north. 

One Boy's Good Work 

<J Another boy, a Swiss, who was here 
this summer, the husband of one of 
my best friends, was mobilized the day 
he was married. News has been coming 
over how he is transforming the spirit 
in his section of the frontier. The 
problem of monotony which led in the 
last war to demoralization, has become 
an opportunity for them to gain a new 
spirit of honesty and unselfishness in 
their lives — through this boy — and 
they are using their weeks and months 
of waiting as a chance to think for their 
country. When they are free they will 
have a program for their nation. 

It does seem as though some people 
step quite easily into heroism. In war 
it is not the money we can make, but 
what we do for the other fellow that 
wins the Croix de Guerre. Maybe if 
we began living that way here before 
war forced it on us, we would change 
the world. 

Have Time to Think 

<fl I was talking to a man the other 
night who has just come from Eng- 
land. It was hard for him to get used 
to the thinking out here on the Coast. 
“You are like an island," he said. “You 
still have time to think sanely. You 
still have time to do the kind of think- 
ing that can save yourselves and us, 
too." 

Well, that certainly puts the baby in 
our laps. Everybody else is fighting for 
his skin. We have got to fight for their 
spirit and ours, I guess. Each genera- 
tion has had to fight some kind of bat- 
tle: the revolution, the wilderness, the 
laws of nature. Well, ours is the great- 
est battle of all — this battle for a last- 
ing peace. 

That is all for this time. See you 
soon. — Dot. 



PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


jue Cam Se tjta<fe am rfjJet 


HAI too much dialogue in pictures 
is poison for film box-offices, is one 
of the Spectator’s firm convictions. But, 
like any other element in a screen pro- 
duction, if presented intelligently, dia- 
logue can add greatly to its entertain- 
ment quality. 

Rarely does the screen today at- 
tempt to please us with the high art 
possible for spoken literature to attain. 
We are surfeited with the censored im- 
precations of gangsters, the standard- 
ized utterances of screen shadows in 
love, the “dese,” and ”dems” and 
"doses” of people who talk that way, 
and in almost every instance you will 
find the story overloaded with such 
talk is one which would have made 
more impressive entertainment if it had 
been written for the camera instead of 
for the microphone. The trouble with 
the screen today is that it is thinking 
in terms of talk, but not in terms of 
what it says. The talk which is in- 
cluded as an integral element of a screen 
creation does not have to be standard- 
ized. Let us consider some pictures. 
One easy to recall is My Man Godfrey. 
What speech in it can you remember? 

I can remember none, and I saw it 
three times. It was so delightfully 
nonsensical, so downright crazy, its 
mood so admirably sustained by the 
brilliant direction of Gregory La Cava 
and the clever performances of Carole 
Lombard, William Powell and other 
members of the cast, what the char- 
acters said was merely an articulated 
part of an amusing scene. We remem- 
ber the whole scene but cannot recall 
the lines which were a part of it. That 
is one legitimate use of audible dialogue 
in a screen production — its use more 
as sound effect than as something en- 
tertaining by virtue of the manner in 
which it is worded. 

Beauty of the Language 

•J Rembrandt , an English picture pro- 
duced and directed by Alexander Korda, 
talented European whose ability was 
not recognized when he was trying to 
gain a foothold in Hollywood produc- 
tion circles, provides an illuminating 
illustration of the legitimate use of dia- 
logue for the sake of its literary beauty 
and as an element in characterizing a 
player. Charles Laughton, playing Rem- 
brandt van Rijn, delivers a speech of 
two hundred and nine words, contain- 
ing story value which he could have ex- 
pressed in three: "I love Saskia.” But 

such a brief statement would not have 
matched the mood of the scene or given 
full expression to the feelings stirring 
him. In a low tone, speaking more to 
himself than to the gay throng sur- 
rounding him, Rembrandt pays a beau- 


tiful tribute to Saskia, his wife, credit- 
ing her with the combined virtues of all 
women: “A creature, half-child, half- 

woman, half-angel, half-lover, brushed 
against him, and of sudden he knew 
that when one woman gives herself to 
you, you possess all women — women of 
every age and race and kind — and, more 
than that, the moon, the stars, all mir- 
acles and legends are yours: the brown- 
skinned girls who inflame your senses 
with their play; the cool, yellow-haired 
women who entice and escape you; the 
gentle ones who serve you: the slender 
ones who torment you; the mothers 
who bore and suckled you — all women 
whom God created out of the teeming 
fullness of the earth are yours in the 
love of one woman. Throw a purple 
mantle lightly over her shoulders, and 
she becomes a Queen of Sheba, lay your 
tousled head blindly upon her breast, 
and she is a Delilah waiting to enthrall 
you. Take her garments from her, strip 
the last veil from her body, and she is 
a chaste Susanne covering her nakedness 
with fluttering hands. Gaze upon her 
as you would gaze upon a thousand 
strange women, but never call her yours 
— for her secrets are inexhaustible; you 
will never know them all. Call her by 
one name only; I call her Saskia.” 
(The Rembrandt dialogue was written 
by Lojos Biro and Arthur Winteris.) 

Why He Played the Tuba 

A sustained speech by Gary Cooper 
in Mr. Deeds Goes to I own has defin- 
ite story value, and its length is justi- 
fied by the homespun philosophy writ- 
ten into it by Robert Riskin and the 
intelligent reading given it by Cooper. 
Defending himself in court when his 
sanity is questioned, one of the counts 
against him being his playing of the 
tuba under circumstances which his ac- 
cusers claim point to his lack of mental 
balance, Mr. Deeds speaks: "About my 
playing the tuba — seems like a lot of 
fuss has been made about that. If a 
man's crazy just ’cause he plays the 
tuba, somebody better look into it, 
’cause there are a lot of tuba players 
running around loose. Of course, I 
don't see any harm in it. I play mine 
whenever I want to concentrate. 

"That may sound funny to some 
people, but most everybody does some- 
thing silly when they’re thing. For in- 
stance, the Judge here is an O-filler. . . . 
You fill in all the spaces in the O’s with 
your pencil. I was watching you. That 
may make you look a little crazy, Your 
Honor, just sitting around filling in 
O’s, but I don’t see anything wrong. 
’Cause that helps you think. Other 
people are doodlers. . . . That’s a name 
we made up back home for people who 
make foolish designs on paper while 


they’re thinking. It’s called doodling. 
Most everybody is a doodler. Did you 
ever see a scratch pad in a telephone 
booth? People draw the most idiotic 
pictures when they’re thinking. Dr. 
Fraser here would probably think up 
a long name for it, ’cause he doodles 
all the time. If Dr. Fraser has to 
doodle to help him think, that's his 
business — everybody does something 
different. Some people are . . . ear-pull- 
ers, some are nail-biters. That man 
there — Mr. Semple — is a nose-twitcher. 
The lady with him is a knuckle-cracker. 
So you see, Your Honor, everybody 
does funny things to help them think. 
Well, I play the tuba.” 

Won the Academy Award 

<1 Not often even in a stage play com- 
posed entirely of speeches, and still 
more rarely in a talking picture, is one 
unbroken speech of such length written 
for a player. Subjecting audiences to 
the necessity of sustained listening for 
such a long period is not good crafts- 
manship. Both on the stage and in pic- 
tures the device usually resorted to to 
elicit essential facts of a witness’s testi- 
mony in the trial of a case, is a ques- 
tion - and - answer exchange between 
counsel and witness. Such device could 
have been employed in Mr. Deeds. It 
was available to both Riskin, writer of 
the screen play, and Frank Capra, di- 
rector of the picture. For his masterly 
cinematic interpretation of the story 
of Deeds, its director, Frank Capra, re- 
ceived from the Academy of Motion 
Picture Arts and Sciences, the award 
for the best direction of 1936. A big 
factor in his selection no doubt was the 
manner in which he handed the scene 
in which Cooper makes his long speech. 
Capra presents the speech with a reliev- 
ing accompaniment of pertinent action. 

When Cooper charges the judge with 
being a doodler, there is a burst of 
laughter by the audience, stimulated in- 
to increased volume an instant later by 
the reaction of the surprised judge. And 
so it goes throughout the entire speech. 
Even though it is not interrupted by 
another voice, it is not a speech which 
demands sustained listening by the audi- 
ence. Laughter bubbles up along its en- 
tire course. In essence a man defending 
himself against an accusation of mental 
incompetency, presents a spectacle lack- 
ing in all suggestion of mirth-provok- 
ing elements. But here the audience is 
not laughing at Mr. Deeds; it is laugh- 
ing with him as he neatly turns the 
tables on his accusers, who, as the audi- 
ence is aware, are endeavoring to get 
control of his fortune. 

Why the Devil Is a Sissy 

•J Another legitimate use of audible dia- 


JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE ELEVEN 


logue is demonstrated in The Devil Is 
a Sissy, directed by W. S. Van Dyke; 
the story by Rowland Brown and the 
screen play by John Lee Mahin and 
Richard Schayer. It really is a moral 
preachment aimed at boys, but so well 
presented it was received with satisfac- 
tion by adult audiences. Although the 
titles of the majority of pictures are 
catch-phrases bearing little relation to 
anything in the stories, in this case 
the title has significance. It is a provo- 
cative title. What does it mean? is a 
question one who views the picture 
would ask. No creation of any art 
should suggest a question it does not 
answer if it is to preserve the perfect 
unity, the completeness within itself, 
all creations must possess to be worthy 
examples of their arts. The title of 
The Devil Is a Sissy prompts a ques- 
tion and its dialogue answers it. The 
judge of the juvenile court, played with 
understanding and sympathy by Jona- 
than Hale, has an informal and friendly 
chat with three boys brought before 
him on charges of having stolen some 
toys. As part of the intimate scene, 
we hear the judge: “That’s what makes 
a fellow tough — to be able to take it. 
You wouldn't want anybody to call 
you a little devil, would you? That’s 
what they say about bad little sissies 
who act naughty when they can’t have 
their own way. . . . By the way, the 
devil’s a weak sister. You know that, 
don't you? Because he was an angel 
once . . . and an angel has to be tough 
to do his job, and the devil couldn’t be 
tough enough so they threw him out — 
and he’s been hiding down below ever 
since. You know, I think the devil is a 
sissy." 

Talking Has Limited Market 

<]J From this speech by the judge we 
learn the title is the text of the sermon 
the whole picture preaches. It is another 
legitimate use of dialogue and as it is 
presented in an easy, conversational 
manner, it is assimilated by the audi- 
ence without intellectual effort. Laugh- 
ton’s speech has emotional appeal and 
Cooper's appeals principally to that 
sense which provides us with the ut- 
most relaxation — our sense of humor. 

One cannot quarrel with the film in- 
dustry for offering for sale pictures de- 
manding purely intellectual digestion, 
which expound philosophical and psy- 
chological problems. There is a mar- 
ket for them, but it is an extremely 
limited one as compared with that for 
emotional entertainment. It so happens 
that the vast majority of stories the in- 
dustry has filmed since the screen be- 
came articulate, would have provided 
more satisfactory entertainment and 
commanded a wider market if they had 
been entrusted to the camera instead of 
to the microphone for their interpreta- 
tion. 


ThU Mcllbfumd 

SCENES THAT AREN'T THERE 

DMINISTRATION offices of our 
picture plants would do well to ex- 
ercise some regulation over the dissem- 
ination of publicity stills which picture 
scenes from productions not finally edit- 
ed. I have seen in magazines views of 
several scenes from Mister Smith Goes 
to Washington which were nowhere to 
be seen in the picture as it was released. 
One reveals James Stewart, in leather 
jacket, receiving Politician Guy Kibbee 
in the young man’s home, a boy’s band 
forming the background. Incidentally, 
this episode of the young fellow’s re- 
action to being informed of his appoint- 
ment to the Senate, should have been 
left in. I felt the lack of it when seeing 
the film. 

Another publicity still presents Stew- 
art, attired in frock coat and wing col- 
lar, riding in an automobile with a 
charmer. Not a flattering impression of 
Hollywood production methods must 
the general public get when it is pre- 
sented with evidence that whole scenes 
are planned and filmed, only to be left 
out. Some patrons may even feel they 
have been “gipped.’’ At least they can- 
not be expected to view the evident de- 
letions with the same charity as we of 
the film city, who know that the best 
structure for a picture cannot definitely 
be decided upon in advance of shooting. 
Which is not to say that in many cases 
of drastic cutting the expense of filming 
the unused scenes could not have been 
largely avoided by more careful plan- 
ning during the writing stage. 

* * * 

Got the Wrong Idea 

GOOD story is going around grow- 
ing out of the publicity campaign 
attending the Gone With the Wind pre- 
miere in Atlanta. Seems that one news- 
paper was so whole-heartedly behind the 
staging of the premiere that it ran a 
banner headline proclaiming “Gable Is 
Coming.” An old negro was thrown 
into an utter frenzy. Having misread 


HOLLYWOOD DOG 
TRAINING SCHOOL 


Carl Spitz, 0<wner 
Fritz Bache, Manager 


Phone 12350 Riverside Drive 

North Holly. 1262 No. Hollywood, Calif. 




}, .dfl 

BY i ‘A 

BERT KAilLtN 

the headline, he"'ttk> j' wa 

coming. 

* * * 

AN ACTRESS REBELS 

/ OAN BENNE TT is certainly entitled 
to a peev against Hal Roach and the 
United Artist people for the advertising 
they put out for The Housekeeper s 
Daughter, which miss was characterized 
in lilting verse as one who does things 
she “hadn’t oughter.” The advertising 
matter struck a low in bad taste, and 
was misrepresentative too, a factor fur- 
ther to the detriment of both the player 
and the producer. Miss Bennett’s essay- 
al was anything but torrid, and even 
sensation seekers do not like being dis- 
appointed. It is said the actress has 
written letters to 26,000 women’s clubs 
asking that they boycott the film, and 
threatens a law suit unless the house- 
keeper’s daughter’s asserted attributes 
are amended. 


5ft 

ANOTHER CYCLE HERALDED 

A RELIGIOUS cycle is apparently be- 
/l ginning in film production, launched, 
producers contend, because the world 
seeks spiritual guidance and reassurance 
in these troublous times. At least two 
productions are definitely set, Queen of 
Oueens, to be made by DeMille, and The 
Great Commandment , to be remade by 
Twentieth Centurv-Fox with substan- 
tially the same staff that turned out the 
recent Cathedral production. There 
should have been religious cycles all 
along, for purely commercial reasons, if 
for no other. Thousands of church- 
goers could have been won into more 
frequent attendance of film theatres if 
their interests were administered to. 


The Bookplate 

AN IDEAL 

BIRTHDAY OR 

ANNIVERSARY PRESENT 

DESIGNS MADE TO ORDER BY 



533 S. St. Andrews, Los Angeles - EX. 9105 


PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


BY 

INA ROBERTS 



./ ^ anels 


<J From ai a.. is of the country come 

reqr sts for our panels. Mrs. Francis J. 
Waindle, Motion Picture Chairman for 
the Illinois Federation of Women's 
Clubs, sends the following inspiring 
message, enclosed with a Christmas 
card: "Dear Mrs. Roberts: If grateful 
thoughts could build up a treasury of 
any value, you would indeed be wealthy. 
Your panels have done splendid service 
in the Chicago area. Your October and 
November panels have been displayed in 
fifteen clubs and two libraries. Thank 
you heartily. Cordially yours, Mary 
Waindle." 

Japanese Boys' Town 

Cfl Comes from Japan a reaction to the 
film Boys' Town. Horie Nagasada 
heads a group of business men financing 
a city for boys near Tokyo fashioned 
after Father Flanagan’s famous organ- 
ization in Omaha. This Japanese school 
for boys’ project is a direct outgrowth 
of the picture. Norman Taurog, who 
directed Boys’ Town, has received a let- 
ter from Nagasada, asking for helpful 
information. Taurog has forwarded 
the letter to Father Flanagan. 

This incident shows that moving 
pictures are finding their real mission in 
life, which is to inspire. Of course this 
must be done through entertainment, a 
fact that helps rather than hinders the 
inspiration to find its mark in the minds 
of audiences. Never was more hilarious 
comedy provided than in You Can't 
Take It With You, yet what we all 
took home with us was the lesson con- 
tained in the title. 

Mice On the Set — Oh, No! 

•fl For obvious reasons, a bird was sub- 
stituted for the mouse in Of Mice and 
Men. When master-minds told Direc- 
tor Milestone he would also have to 
change the title, he solved the problem 
by prefacing the film with the Burns 
poem in which appears the line that 
suggested Steinbeck’s title — "the best 
laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft 
agley." 

Hands Across the Border 

CJ Northwest Mounted Police, the de 
Mille production now in preparation, 
will deal with the so-called Riel Rebel- 
lion of 1885 and will introduce a Texas 
Ranger into the territory of the Mount- 
ed Police. Mr. de Mille says "the story 
sticks to history in both letter and 
spirit, the wishes of the Canadian gov- 
ernment and the Mounted Police have 
been respected and the story also gives 
both sides of the Rebellion. One of the 
principal themes is the friendship and 


cooperation between Canada and the 
United States. 

Boat Modelers, Attention 

For their coming film, The Sea Hawk, 
Warners have built the largest craft ever 
fashioned in a film city. The Falcon, 
135 feet long, with a 30 foot beam, 
four decks and a full fore and aft sail- 
ing rig, stands on its ways in the car- 
pentry mills at Warner Bros. Studio, 
awaiting its formal launching. Another 
ship, a Spanish craft, will be built for 
the film. 

Hands Across the Sea 

CjJ Bringing England to Hollywood for 
The Earl of Chicago, starring Robert 
Montgomery, required 1827 items for 
interior decoration and more than 3000 
props. The film shows 33 English sets, 
including a mythical Gorley Castle and 
such historic settings as the House of 
Lords and the Tower of London. The 
Tower of London set was re-created, 
even to the headsman’s block and the 
placques showing the site of the execu- 
tion of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, 
the Earl of Essex and other notables. 
The House of Lords, pictured for the 
first time on the screen, required 369 
props, each important to depicting the 
colorful ceremony, ritual and traditions 
of the famed governing body. 

Poor Mickey! 

After learning the Continental tele- 
graph code in connection with his role 
in Young Tom Edison, Mickey Rooney 
learned that this code came into existence 
with the use of wireless, so Mickey went 
to work to learn the Morse code. 

Lesson Not "Gone With the Wind" 

Something to take home from this 
film is the realization that, through her 
many faults, the dominant characteristic 
of Scarlett stands out with striking 
beauty. The supreme trait was her 
never-failing ability to meet what came, 
carrying on with splendid courage and 
daring. Meeting the Challenge of Life 
and books of similar import are appro- 
priate for display in connection with the 
filmed Gone With the Wind. The con- 
nection will not be missed by audiences 
and Scarlett's indominable and instant 
reaction to calamity will prove an in- 
spiration to others beset by minor trage- 
dies:; there could scarcely be greater 
trials than Scarlett endured and solved 
with colors flying. 

Systematic Film Cooperation 

C[ Libraries wishing to increase the read- 
ing of connecting books will do well to 
make film cooperation systematic and 
constructive. One of the essential points 


is to keep posted on future films in order 
to have extra copies of their connecting 
books ready for circulation to coinside 
with the local appearance of the film. 
For this reason, the list of films, group- 
ed under "Current,” "Coming," and 
"In Production" to be found in this 
"Books and Films Department," will be 
found extremely useful. In addition 
managers of theatres in the neighbor- 
hood of the library should be contacted. 
Once their cooperation is secured, care 
should be taken to help the theatres in 
every way consistent with the Library’s 
policy as a non-commercial organiza- 
tion. An important way of doing this 
is to post displays and distribute film 
bookmarks somewhat in advance of lo- 
cal showings. The time the manager 
needs your aid is just before and during 
the time the film in question is showing 
in his theatre; he will repay you by 
booking more films with which you can 
cooperate. 

CURRENT FILMS 

Batata ka — Play by Eric Maschwitz : 

Nelson Eddy, Ilona Massey, released 
12-30. MGM 

Charlie McCarthy , Detective — Edgar Ber- 
gen. Charlie McCarthy. Mortimer Snerd ; 
released 12-23. Univ. 

Drums Along the Mohawk — Novel by 
Walter Edmonds; Henry Fonda, Claud- 
ette Colbert. 20th-Fox 

Everything Happens At Night — Sonja 

Henie, RayMilland; released 12-22. 20th-Fox 
Gentleman from Arizona — Cinecolor-film- 
ed in Arizona: J. Farrell MacDonald. 

Joan Barclay. Craig Reynolds. Mono. 

Gone With the Wind — Novel by Mar- 
garet Mitchell; Leslie Howard, Vivien 
Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havil- 
land.^ MGM 

Great Victor Herbert — Mary Martin, Al- 
lan Jones; released 12-29. Para. 

Green Hell — Screen play by Frances Mar- 
ion; Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Joan Ben- 
nett; released 1-27. Univ. 

Gulliver’s Travels — Story by Jonathan 
Swift; Max Fleischer feature cartoon; 
released 12-23. RKO 

Hunchback of Notre Dame — Novel by 
Hugo; Charles Laughton, Maureen 
O'Hara, Walter Hampden, Sir Cecil 
Hardwicke, Edmond O’Brien. Minna 
Gombell ; released 12-30. RKO 

Judge Hardy and Son — Hardy Family; 

released 12-23. MGM 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — Con- 
tinues adventures of Mr. Deeds : Jean 
Arthur. James Stewart. Claude Rains. 

Guy Kibbee, Eugene Pallete-; released 
10-21. Col. 

Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex — 
based on play Elizabeth, the Queen, by 
Maxwell Anderson: released 11-11. Warnei 
Swanee River — Life of Stephen Foster 
and life of E. P. Christy, minstrel man: 
technicolor; Don Ameche, Al Jolson. 

Andrea Leeds: released 1-5. 20th-Fox 

We Are Not Alone — Novel by Hilton: 

released 11-25. Warner 

COMING FILMS 

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Play by Robert 
Sherwood; Raymond Massey, Gene 
Lockhart. RKO 


JANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE THIRTEEN 


Adventures In Diamonds — Locale. Kim- 
berley Mines; George Brent, Isa Mir- 
anda. Nigel Bruce; released 2-11. Para. 

At Good Old Siwash — Novel by George 

Fitch. Para. 

Brother Rat and the Baby — Story by 
Monk and Finklehoffe: Eddie Albert, 

Jane Bryan, Priscilla Lane; released 
1-13. Warner 

Years Without Days — Formerly City of 
Lost Men. and 20.000 Years In Sing 
Sing; story by Warden Lawes; John 
Garfield. Warner 

Earl of Chicago — Story by Brock Wil- 
liams: Robert Montgomery. MGM 

Fighting 69th — Story by Father Francis 
Duffy; Pat O'Brien. Jane Bryan; re- 
leased 1-27. Warner 

Grapes of Wrath — Novel by John Stein- 
beck; Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, 

Doris Bondon. Zeffie Tilbury, Charlie 
Grapewin; released 2-2. 20th-Fox 

Hts Girl Friday — Adapted from play, 

The Front Page, by Hecht and Mac- 
Arthur; Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell. 

Gene Lockhart; released 1-20. Col. 

I Married Adventure — Filmed in Africa; 

Mrs. Osa Martin: released 1-27. Col. 

Invisible Stripes — Based on story by War- 
den Lawes; handicaps confronting re- 
leased prisoners: George Raft. William 
Holden, Humphrey Bogart. Jane Bry- 
an. Warner 

Life of Dr. Ehrlich — Edward G. Robin- 
son. Warner 

Light That Failed — Novel by Kipling: 

Ronald Colman. Muriel Angelus, Ida 
Lupino: released 2-3-40. 

Little Old New York— Alice Faye, Rich- 
ard Greene; released 4-5. 20th-Fox 

Married and In Love — Based on Distant 
Fields; play by S. K. Laurens; Ginger 
Rogers. Alan Marshall: released 1.20. RKO 
Northwest Passage — Novel by Kenneth 
Roberts: Spencer Tracy, Wallace Beery, 


Robert Taylor. MGM 

Of Mice and Men — Play by John Stein- 
beck. U.A. 

1 .000 ,000 B. C. — Released February. U.A. 

Parole Fixer — Formerly Federal Offense; 
based on articles by J. Edgar Hoover; 
rtle'sed 2-2. Para. 

Pinocchio — Juvenile by C. Collodi; fea- 
ture cartoon; Walt Disney. RKO 

Rebecca — Novel by Daphne Du Maurier; 

released 1-20. U.A. 

Remember the Night — Novel by Rebecca 
West; Barbara Stanwyck, Fred Mac- 
Murray; released 1-19. Para. 

Safari — Madeleine Carroll. Douglas Fair- 
banks, Jr.: released 6-14. 


Seventeen — Novel by Tarkington; Jackie 
Cooper, Betty Field, Otto Kruger; re- 
leased 3-1. Para. 

Shop Around the Corner — Margaret Sul- 
lavan, Frank Morgan. James Stewart; 
released 1-20. MGM 

Sidewalks of London — Formerly London 
After Dark, and St. Martin's Lane; 
made in England; Charles Laughton, 

Vivien Leigh. Para. 

Swiss Family Robinson — Book by Wyss; 

Tim Holt. Terry Kilburn, Freddie Bar- 
tholomew. Edna Best: released 1-20. RKO 
Thou Shalt Not Kill — Charles Bickford. 

Owen Davis. Jr.. Doris Day. Repub. 

Vigil In the Night — Novel by A. J. 
Cronin; Brian Aherne, Carole Lom- 
bard; released 2-16. RKO 

Virginia City — Technicolor; Errol Flynn. 

Brenda Marshall, Frank McHugh. Warner 

Young As You Feel — Sixteenth Jones 

family film; released 2-9. 20th-Fox 

Young Tom Edison — -Mickey Rooney, 

Virginia Weidler, Victor Killian. MGM 

IN PRODUCTION 

And It All Came True — Story by Louis 
Bromfield: George Raft. Ann Sheridan. 
Humphrey Bogart. Jeffrey Lynn. Warner 

Arizona — Novel by C. B. Kelland; tech- 
nicolor. Col. 

Arouse and Beware — Novel by MacKinlay 
Kantor: Wallace Beery, Dolores del 

Rio. John Howard. H. B. Warner. MGM 
Bill of Divorcement — Play by Clemence 
Dane: Maureen O’Hara. Adolphe Men- 
jou. Fay Bainter. RKO 

The Bluebird- — Play by Maurice Maeter- 
linck: technicolor: Shirley Temple; re- 
leased 3-1. 20th-Fox 

Chasing Trouble — Frankie Darro, Mar- 
jorie Reynolds. Mono. 

Dark Command — Novel by W. R. Bur- 
nett; Walter Pidgeon. Claire Trevor. 

John Wayne. Repub 

Daughters of Today — Rochelle Hudson. 

Glenn Ford. Col 

Five Little Peppers Midway — Second in 

series; Edith Fellows. Col. 

Florian — Novel by Felix Salten ; Robert 

Young. MGM 

Forty L’ttle Mothers — Novel by Edward 
Fadiman: Eddie Onton, Rita John- 
son. Bonita Granville. MGM 

Front Page Lady — Novel by Charles 
Williams; espionage in United States; 
Gertrude Michael, Warren Hull. Mono. 

Irene — Musical comedy hit: screen play 
by Alice Duer Miller: Anna Neagle, 

Ray Milland: released 4-5. RKO 


FOR YOUR 
CONVENIENCE 


Liti 


Fox 


U.A. 


Col. 

rr;o 


RKO 


Finest \ PKO 

Man Who *v-> »' r 

worthy Hal. a t 
Mae Marsh, Llo No 
My Son. My Son -No* 

Spring; Brian Ahi rne, Li /ward. 

Music In My Heart- -Formei., assjiort 
to Happiness; Rita Hayworth. Kostel- 
anetz Orchestra. Edith Fellows, Alan 
Mowbray. 

My Favorite Wife — Cary Grant, Irene 
Dunne. 

Primrose Path — Based on novel, Febru- 
ary Hill, by Victoria Lincoln; Ginger 
Rogers, Joel McCrea. 

Strange Cargoes — Formerly Not Too Nar- 
row. Not Too Deep — Story by Rich- 
ard Sale; Melvyn Douglas. Joan Craw- 
ford. MGM 

Three Cheers for the Irish — Priscilla 
and Rosemary Lane. Dennis Morgan, 
Thomas Mitchell. Warner 

Too Many Husbands — Play by Somerset 
Maugham; Melvyn Douglas, Jean Aus- 
tin. Col. 

Way of All Flesh — Novel by Samuel But- 
ler; Fritz Leiber. Muriel Angeles, Ber- 
ton Churchill. Para. 

We Shall Meet Again — George Brent. 

Merle Oberon, Gene Lockhart. Warner 

Westerner — Gary Cooper. U.A. 


★ Warner Brothers are to concentrate 
its short-making enterprise in its Bur- 
bank establishment, transferring the 
seat of such activity from the East. 

☆ A ☆ 

★ Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Wil- 
liam Powell are to appear together for 
the first time since 19 34. The new pro- 
duction, The Rosary. 

ir ★ A 

★ Walt Disney releases 18 cartoon pro- 
ductions annually. 


Do You Like — 

GOOD FOOD— GOOD BEDS— AND 
ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME? 

Then Stop at the — 

SANTA MARIA INN 

Santa Maria, Calif. 

174 miles from L.os Angeles — 271 miles 
from San Francisco — On Highway 101 


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6513 Hollywood Blvd. 
Hollywood, California 



Please enter my subscription for — 

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HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


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ANUARY 6, 1940 


PAGE FIFTEEN 


A Plea and a Play 

By 

WELFORD BEATON 

Tells why too much dialogue is box- 
office poison, and demonstrates the man- 
ner in which it can be reduced. 

An invaluable little volume for all 
students of the screen. 


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Northwest Passage ★ Young Tom Edison 'k My Little Chickadee 
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Seventeen ★ Free, Blonde and 21 


SPECTATOR 


Twice Monthly 


Edited by WELFORD BEATON 


Fourteenth Year 


Los Angeles, California — March 1, 1940 


Vol. 14— No. 22 


GEORGE STEVENS 

Producer-Director, Who in His "Vigil In the Night," Reinstates 
the Camera in Its Place as the Screen's Story- T Tedium 

See tdiroi s Easy Chair 




ft \xj??t the 

DITORS 


EASY CHAIR 


GEORGE STEVENS SHOWS THE WAY 

YOUNG producer-director on the RKO lot, George 
Stevens, has made available for study by the film 
industry a demonstration of what it must do to relieve 
the seriousness of its present financial condition and 
to recreate in the public the habit of attending mo- 
tion picture theatres. Silent pictures first created the 
habit; talkies put an end to it. When the screen ac- 
quired a voice, the film industry abandoned every- 
thing which was responsible for its astonishing growth, 
went into an entirely new business, still thinks it is in 
the business which made it so prosperous, and belly- 
aches about the public's being so hard to please. 

Ever since pictures went talkie the Spectator no 
doubt has tired its readers by the reiteration of its 
plea for the use of the microphone as an aid to the 
camera, not a substitute for it, as the screen's story- 
telling medium. In as many ways as words could ex- 
press it, the Spectator warned the industry of what 
would be the consequences of its substitution of aural 
entertainment for visual entertainment — of its appeal 
to the intellect instead of to the emotions of its 
patrons — but such warnings were unheeded and Holly- 
wood has talked itself into money troubles, scores of 
anti-trust suits and other difficulties, all the direct re- 
sult of the public's refusal to patronize everything 
offered it, as it had the habit of doing when pictures 
were silent. 

What Has Gone Before 

In the last Spectator I reviewed "Vigil in the Night," 
an RKO picture produced and directed by George 
Stevens. I characterized it as, "The perfect talkie 
formula . . . the farthest" advance towards perfection 
yet made by any studio." I was unacquainted with 
Stevens, never to my knowledge had seen him, but the 
picture interested me tremendously in the man who 
made it, the man who realized on film everything the 
Spectator had advanced as a theory. I thumbed back 
through Spectators to discover if I had reviewed any 
other Stevens pictures. I found that of his "Alice 
Adams" (1936) I had written; "Stevens is a newcomer 
of much promise, a director who realizes the import- 
ance of the camera." Quotes from two reviews in 
1937: "What all my arguments have aimed at is ex- 
emplified in Steven's direction of this picture." . . 
"His direction has the merit of being so easy and 
smooth it draws no attention to itself, reveals no striv- 
ing to achieve results, no stressing of points." His 
"Gunga Din" (19391 I characterized as "one of the 


most distinguished feats of screen craftsmanship 
Hollywood has to its credit." 

One Prediction Comes True 

€J After getting my nose out of Spectator files, I re- 
solved the next thing I had to do was to meet Stevens. 
I went to the RKO lot and was jerked into the office 
of an executive who roasted me for roasting his last 
picture. When he cooled off, we talked about Stevens. 
"One thing which makes George so valuable to RKO," 
the executive told me, "is his popularity with the big 
stars. All of them seemingly want to work for him, 
and we have no difficulty in borrowing one when he or 
she is told the picture is to be directed by George 
Stevens." That had a familiar ring, stirred something 
in my memory, and when I got back to my library and 
into the files again, I found this in the Spectator of 
May 7, 1938: "After all Hollywood sees 'Vivacious 
Lady,' Stevens will be among the directors for whom 
players will be anxious to work." 

But before leaving the lot, I called on Stevens in his 
office. He proved younger than I expected him to be. 
By sampling a pipeful of it, I discovered he has a nice 
taste in smoking tobacco, and a putter leaning lan- 
guidly in a corner inspired some remark about golf, 
and for a half hour or so we exchanged experiences 
each of us had had on various courses. I supposed he 
lied, too, but perhaps not; he looks like an honest, 
straight-forward young fellow, and I would not be sur- 
prised if he really did get that hole in one. Anyway, 
we did not talk about pictures for the guite sufficient 
reason that he would not talk about them. So I left 
him, went to a projection room and, all by myself, 
viewed "Vigil In the Night" again. I was afraid it 
could not be as good as I thought it was when I first 
viewed it, and I wanted to make sure. 

Of Great Value As Lesson 

CJ The second viewing deepened my assurance that 
the Stevens picture could be, to the film industry as a 
whole, the most valuable production ever to come 
from a Hollywood studio. It is a filmed text-book on 
the relative places of the camera and the microphone 
in the construction of a piece of screen entertainment. 
But will Hollywood accept it as such? By no means. 
Hollywood producers believe their salary checks, 
really believe they have the b rains to justify the size 
of the figures on the checks, think only in terms of 
their self-estimated importance, and would be shock- 
ed if told they could learn anything more about pic- 
tures than they know already. They are the persons 


H 0 L l!. Y 3 D ^PECTATOR, published twice monthly at Los Angeles. Calif., by Hollywood Spectator Co., 6513 Hollywood Blvd. ; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price, $5 the year; two 
years, $8: fore^... $1- Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter. September 23, 1938, at the Post Office at Los Angeles, Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3, 1879 


PAGE TWO 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


responsible for all the woes the film industry is 
suffering. 

But a new order in pictures is being ushered in by 
the pressure being applied from the outside. We al- 
ways will have pictures. Among prop men, cutters, 
assistant directors, young directors, writers there are 
the makers of the pictures of the near tomorrow, and 
each of them should study every scene in "Vigil In 
the Night," should see it first as entertainment, then 
several times as a study in technigue. 

Camera Tells the Story 

(JThe outstanding feature of the technigue is the 
manner in which the camera is used to tell almost the 
entire story. In the opening seguence the atmosphere 
and mood of the production are established without 
the sound of a voice being heard; several other se- 
guences are wordless, two of them being the most 
dramatic in the highly dramatic picture. But even in 
dialogue scenes spoken lines depend greatly upon the 
camera to give full expression to their meaning. The 
approach to a scene, its composition and the facial 
expression of those who speak in it, are what give full 
story significance to what is said. All lines are spoken 
guietly and get their emphasis from what we see, not 
from what we hear. 

The camera, too, developes characterizations. In 
one shot we see two sisters conversing; one dressed 
plainly, carelessly, even her smile suggesting serious- 
ness; the other neat, hair dressed meticulously, her 
seriousness suggesting a frivolous background. The 
camera tells us all that, and it is what gives meaning 
to what the girls say to one another. Truly Stevens 
wields an eloguent camera. 

And It Is Good Box-Office 

<fl But, after all, the thing which counts is not the 
technigue employed; it is the public's response to the 
picture as a whole. Picture making is a business, and 
has George Stevens made one that will attract money 
to the box-office? He has. I had a lump in my throat 
and tears in my eyes when I saw it first with a big 
audience. The lump came back and the tears returned 
when I sat alone and saw it the second time. Nothing 
Stevens has done with his story means a thing at the 
box-office unless the sum total of his effort evokes 
emotional response from those who view it. I am con- 
fident "Vigil In the Night" will get such response from 
all who view it. 

But whatever its financial fate, it comes as a boon 
to the motion picture industry if the industry proves 
itself intelligent enough to recognize that George 
Stevens has the cure for the financial ills it now is suf- 
fering. Only more camera and less microphone will 
revive picture-going as a public habit. I have urged 
that a hundred times. On the screen, how to do it is 

demonstrated by Stevens in a hundred minutes. 

* * * 

WE VISIT CRADLE OF TALENT 

OOK advantage of a previewless evening to visit 
one of the cradles of acting genius, the Bliss-Hay- 
den School of the Theatre, which was presenting a 


play with a cast composed of some of its pupils. 
When the film industry developes an adult mentality 
we will have schools in Hollywood which will teach 
screen acting, but at present we must be content 
with looking for screen talent in the ranks of those 
who are being taught the alien art of stage acting, 
which, at least, gives them an opportunity to de- 
velope the personalities which make them valuable 
to pictures. Three of the people in the cast of 
"Good-Bye, My Love," the play I saw, should en- 
gage the attention of screen talent scouts. Mariam 
Jay, who played the leading part, has beauty, brains 
and personality to recommend her as candidate for 
picture honors. The part she played gave her an 
opportunity to display a wide range of emotional 
acting. Mary Jane Karns, Roscoe's eighteen-year-old 
daughter, is another whom some studio should grab. 
Good to look at, with a rare grasp of comedy values 
and ability to express them, Mary Jane is going 
places. The third player who attracted my attention 
is Rian Randal. He, too, is going places. If you forget 
the name, I will remind you of it in a couple of years 
when I boast of having predicted for him the success 
he then will have achieved. 

* * * 

WARNERS MAKE WISE CHOICE 

PUTTING V irginia Bruce under a long term contract 
* is a wise move on the part of Warner Brothers. 
Possessed of charming personality, beauty of face and 
form, real acting ability, Virginia needs only the right 
roles in the right pictures to put her away up on the 
list of box-office ratings. There is something wrong 
with a system which makes it possible for a studio 
practically to put an end to a player's career by sign- 
ing her to an exclusive contract and then keep her off 
the screen. I hope Virginia's Warner contract stipu- 
lates that she is to grace the screen with her presence 
at least twice a year. 

* * * 

NEW YORK CRITICS NOT CONFUSED 
OMMENTING on the New York film critics' selec- 
tions of the best performances for last year, a 
woman of Gotham is guoted as follows in Louella 
Parson's column: "Jimmy Stewart does not deserve 
the award, fine as he was in 'Mr. Smith Goes to 
Washington,' because he played a role that was 
tailor-made. Jimmy is an acting stylist. Ditto Jean 
Arthur. Ditto Bette Davis. Contrast these players, 
who play themselves in every role, with a character- 
ization such as Robert Donat turned in with 'Good- 
bye Mr. Chips,' Paul Muni is another great actor 
who characterizes. I am afraid the New York critics 
have confused great personalities with great artists." 

I think it is the writer of the letter who is confused, 
not the critics. The screen derives its strength as 
popular entertainment from its "tailor-made" roles. 
It is not an acting art; it demands of a player that 
he absorb his role until he becomes the person he 
is playing. Great personalities, not great artists, are 
exactly what give the screen its great appeal. Jimmy 


MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE THREE 


Stewart deserved the critics' award because he is a 
great personality, because he can express his person- 
ality in terms of the medium in which he works. The 
only thing which surprises me in regard to the critics' 
award is the belated recognition, by at least one New 
York element, of the status of the screen as an indi- 
vidual art, not merely a mechanical process by which 
stage technigue is brought to the screens of the 
world. 

* * * 

JIMMIE'S FOOD AND PHOTOGRAPHY 
TO MAKE a success of his Chinese restaurant on 
Ventura Boulevard, all James Wong Howe need do 
is to achieve, in the food he serves, the artistic per- 
fection which characterizes his screen photography. 
When you see Jimmie's name on the screen you know 
you are in for a visual treat even if the picture has not 

much of anything else to offer. 

* * * 

EDITOR HAS A DINNER DATE 

T A dinner in honor of Lloyd Douglas, whose "Mag- 
nificent Obsession," published ten years ago, is 
followed now by what is practically a sequel, "Dr. 
Hudson's Secret Journal," I had the good fortune tc 
sit beside Rachel Field, whose latest novel, "All This 
and Heaven Too," is on the list of best sellers. Miss 
Field told us an amusinq story. At various times she 
has wanted copies of some of her old books which 
were out of print, and each time went to a New York 
book store which made a business of keeping such 
books in stock. Feeling embarrassed at asking for 
books she herself had written, she gave a fictitious 
name when makinq a purchase. On the occasion of 
her sixth visit to the store the proprietor asked her 
why she was buying so many of one author's out-of- 
print books. "Well," she replied, "Rachel Field is a 
relative of mine." "Oh, I see," replied the book seller, 
"charity begins at home." ... I had interesting chats 
with Carrie Jacobs Bond and May Robson, both 
white-haired veterans still as vigorous as girls in their 
teens; also met Elizabeth Page, the charming writer 
of "The Tree of Liberty," currently successful book 
which will be made into a picture by Producer-Director 
Frank Lloyd, with Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant as 
stars. And present at the dinner also was my very 
good friend of a dozen or more years, Louise Dresser, 

great actress, grand woman. 

* * * 

CONTRARY TO HUMAN IMPULSES 

I^EFENDING in print double-feature programs, a 
^writer claims they give the public a chance to see 
at least one picture it likes, and it does not have to 
remain to see the other. Weak reasoning. When a 
man pays for two of anything, he wants both, does 

not want to keep one and throw the other away. 

* * * 

PUBLICITY BOYS PLEASE NOTE 

ILL studio publicity departments do me a favor? 
When I see a picture in which a side-wheeler is 
shown paddling up a tributary of the Amazon, I like 


to imagine I am looking at just that; but invariably 
after a preview I find some publicity material explain- 
ing in detail the difficulties studio technicians over- 
same in staging the scene on the back lot, and how 
they had to train houseflies to act like Amazonian 
mosquitoes. The favor I ask is to be permitted to 
imagine I am looking at the real thing. 

* * * 

MENTAL MEANDERINGS 

P NEAR the paved highway where our dirt road 
comes to an abrupt end, a newcomer has built an 
imposing residence, and on the top of each of two 
arrogant pillars at the street end of the driveway has 
placed a light, the two being the only illumination 
the dirt road boasts. One Sunday morning the new- 
comer came briskly down the road, got a little group 
of us together, from one pocket pulled a petition, 
from another a fountain pen, told us where to siqn, 
and that, with his influence at the City Hall, our dirt 
road soon would be transformed into a smooth pave- 
ment. To the views we expressed about his pavement 
idea, we added the information that in our opinion 
his driveway lights already were more ostentation than 
we could stomach with complacency. The dogs and I 
were on the front lawn late last night when I was 
hailed from the road. It was the newcomer. "Just 
strolled down the road in the moonlight," he told me. 
"You know, I think you people along here know how 
to live. I'm going to jerk out those damned lights 
and substitute urns with ivy drooping from them. I'm 
even growing fond of the bumps in the road." In time 
the country gets you. . . . But at other places in the 
Valley, which is composed principally of square miles 
of open space, real estate developers are building 
houses so close together a man can borrow tooth 
powder from his neighbor without either of them 
having to leave his bathroom. . . . Think I'll have to 
do more of my writing at the office; things sometimes 
get a bit strained around the house. For instance, this 
is the day Wendy, the world's most charming grand- 
daughter, spends with us. Tom, the man about the 
place, made a kite for her and commissioned me to 
find some strinq. I saw the loose end of something 
sticking out of a basket in which Mrs. Spectator keeps 
the knitting, crocheting, weaving jobs she is working 
on. I pulled it and it kept coming until I had a dandy 
big ball; Wendy, Tom and I flew the kite and had a 
wonderful time. While I was smoking my after-lunch- 
eon pipe I heard Mrs. Spectator at the phone; she was 
telling a friend that in some mysterious way a mat she 
was making out of twine and had nearly finished had 
disappeared from her work basket; couldn't find it 
anywhere; had looked everywhere but in the garage 
and was going to look there next, although she couldn't 
imagine its being there. So I hot-footed it to the gar- 
age, hid the kite, and now I don't know what to do 
about it. Or what she miqht do if she knew. We've 
been married only thirty-one years, and it takes longer 
than that to learn just what a woman would do under 
some circumstances. 





PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


What £ate OheJ took Hike 


Stirring History in 
Metro Production 

NORTHWEST PASSAGE, MGM 

Producer Hunt Stromberg 

Director King Vidor 

Screen play: Laurence Stallings, Talbot Jen- 
nings. 

Based on the novel by Kenneth Roberts 

Musical score by Herbert Stothart 

Recording director Douglas Shearer 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Associate art director Malcolm Brown 

Directors of photograph: Sidney Wagner, ASC: 

Wiliam V. Skall, ASC. 

Film editor Conrad A. Nervig 

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter 

Brennan, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Louis 
Hector, Robert Barrat, Lumsden Hare, Donald 
McBride, Isabel Jewell, Douglas Walton, Ad- 
dison Richards, Hugh Sothern, Regis Toomey, 
Montagu Love, Lester Matthews, Truman Brad- 
ley, Andrew Pena. 

NOT HER outstanding achievement 
to the credit of Producer Hunt Strom- 
berg: a stirring, uplifting screen mate- 
rialization of a page of United States 
history, turned nearly two centuries ago 
but alive today with inspiration to those 
who have difficulties to overcome. It is 
a picture which ignores screen conven- 
tions in the composition of its story. 
Two hundred pioneer soldiers set forth 
to wipe out a tribe of murderous In- 
dians, month after month encounter and 
overcome obstacles which nature stacks 
against them, accomplish their objec- 
tive, fifty come back. That is the story, 
but the screen records it in heroic terms, 
makes of it a gripping, inspiring drama 
of which Hollywood has reason to be 
proud. It is a literary, visual and tech- 
nical triumph which gives the screen 
new dignity. 

Laurence Stallings and Talbot Jen- 
nings put in screen play form that por- 
tion of Kenneth Roberts’s book, North- 
west Passage, which was used in the pic- 
ture, and adroitly paved the way for a 
sequel by a line of dialogue in the clos- 
ing sequence to the effect that the North- 
west Passage itself still remained to be 
discovered. I am quite sure audience re- 
action to the picture will constitute an 
imperative demand for a sequel. If the 
picture does not prove an outstanding 
box-office success it will be because the 
public is harder to please than it should 
be. 

Direction and Performances 

<1 King Vidor’s direction is perfect. It 
was a tremendous emotional and phy- 
sical job the well constructed screen play 
put into his hands, and right nobly did 
he execute it. And right nobly, too, did 
the cameras of Sidney Wagner and Wil- 
liam V. Skall respond to the demands 
made upon them. Scores of scenic shots 


are superb examples of composition and 
photography. Lakes, streams, forests, 
mountains, cloud effects form beautiful 
and awe-inspiring backgrounds for the 
heroic soldiers as they bravely carry on. 
Vidor's direction is notable particularly 
for the manner in which he keeps alive 
on the screen the indominable spirit of 
the soldiers as they cheerfully meet and 
overcome the difficulties they encounter. 

Spencer Tracy has a habit of making 
us believe no other actor could play any 
role in which he appears. He does it 
again here, makes his Major Rogers, the 
heroic leader of heroes, a real person, 
not an actor. And thanks to Vidor, we 
have a new Bob Young who reveals in- 
telligence, emotional power and adapt- 
able acting ability hinted at even in the 
wishy-washy roles to which he was as- 
signed when he first came to the screen, 
but which until now he was not given 
an opportunity to display. Walter Bren- 
nan is another who distinguishes him- 
self in Northwest Passage, as does Addi- 
son Richards in a highly emotional role. 
Regis Toomey, one of the finest young 
actors available to pictures and one of 
the most overlooked, does quite enough 
in this picture to point up the folly of 
producers in not making greater use of 
him. 

Competent Craftsmanship 

The acting pattern is sprinkled with 
well done bits, too many for individual 
mention. It is an almost wholly mascu- 
line picture, the only actress in it who 
is given an opportunity to display act- 
ing ability being Isabel Jewell, who ap- 
pears briefly but makes her presence felt. 
Romantic element is slight; Ruth Hus- 
sey and Bob Young are in love when 
the picture opens, they are holding hands 
when it ends, and that is all the ro- 
mance there is in this purely masculine 
piece of screen entertainment. 

In all its technical aspects Northwest 
Passage reveals completely competent 
craftsmanship. It is a far cry from the 
Romeo and Juliet sets of Cedric Gib- 
bons to his log fortifications and In- 
dian teepees in this picture, but for at- 
mospheric integrity they can be com- 
pared. Film editing is an important job 
in the production of such sweep and so 
much activity which at all times must 
register persistent forward movement. 
And a well done job did Conrad Ner- 
vig make of it. For the scenic beauty 
which is such a big feature of the pic- 
ture we have technicolor to thank. 

A picture to command the serious at- 
tention of all students of the screen, one 
which demonstrates the screen s advan- 
tage over all other media as a teacher of 
history, the only medium which can 
make it live again before our eyes. May 
appeal more to masculine than to fem- 


inine tastes, but I have my doubts. Not 
for children or for young people who$e 
tastes run to the frivolous. But exhibi- 
tors certainly can get behind it with 
enthusiasm. 

Biographical Film 

Scores A Success 

YOUNG TOM EDISON. MGM 
Producer John W. Considine, Jr. 

Associate producer Orville O. Dull 

Director Norman Taurog 

Original screen play: Bradbury Foote, Dore 

Schary, Hugo Butler. 

Based on material by H. Alan Dunn 

Musical score Edward Ward 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Associate art director Harry McAfee 

Director of photography Sidney Wagner, ASC 
Film editor Elmo Veron 

Cast: Mickey Rooney, Fay Bainter, George 

Bancroft, Virginia Weidler, Eugene Pallette, 
Victor Kilian, Bobbie Jordan, J. M. Kerrigan, 
Lloyd Corrigan, John Kellog, Clem Bevans, 
Eily Malyon, Harry Shannon. 

IOGRAPHICAL venture which 
should prove highly successful. Here 
we have the first half of it, the half that 
tells us about the boy. On the way is 
the second helping, the one which will 
tell us about the man, the Wizard of 
Menlo, Thomas A. Edison, who illum- 
inated the world. Those who view the 
first picture will be impatient to view 
the second — an important box - office 
factor. Mickey Rooney’s name will at- 
tract millions of patrons, among them 
a few million who are interested more 
in him than in the man the boy be- 
came, but after seeing him they will not 
be content until they see the man. As 
a ballyhoo for the second picture, the 
first will prove a huge success, further 
assured by the fact that Spencer Tracy 
will play the man. 

The producer - writer combination 
which made such a human document of 
Boys' Town — John W. Considine, Jr., 
producer, and Dore Shary and Hugo 
Butler, writers — again functions as a 
unit to make Young Tom Edison a 
warmly human picture. The boy had 
much to contend with in his small home 
town, his series of experiments creating 
doubts as to his sanity. But we regard 
our young hero’s woes with more com- 
placency than we do those of the hero 
of a purely fictional creation: we know 
in advance that ultimately he will tri- 
umph and make the small town proud 
of him. Such knowledge, however, does 
not temper our sympathy for him or 
lessen our regret that he should be mis- 
understood so sadly. And therein lies 
the great appeal of Young Tom Edison. 

No Mugging By Mickey 

So far we have considered Mickey 
Rooney ideal casting for every part he 



MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE FIVE 


has played, and the same holds true here. 
Even its casual reading has made the 
adult population acquainted with the 
achievements of Edison, the man, but 
few of us have knowledge of the birth 
pains his genius suffered. In that regard 
Young Tom Edison is a revealing docu- 
ment. a poignant recital of trials and 
disappointments, illuminated with flashes 
of humor, bits of comedy, which sugar- 
coat its taking. Mickey does no mug- 
ging here, does no straining for effects, 
never suggests the actor. As his younger 
sister — really older in the Edison family 
— we have that superlatively clever little 
Virginia Weidler, a child who would be 
a great box-office star if only one among 
our many overstuffed-salaried producers 
had brains enough to realize it. 

The parents of the Edison children 
are played by Fay Bainter and George 
Bancroft, and each gives a really fine 
performance. Others who distinguish 
themselves are Eugene Pallette, Victor 
Kilian, J. M. Kerrigan, Lloyd Corrigan 
and Eily Malyon. Norman Taurog gave 
the picture understanding direction, and 
Sidney Wagner (photography) and El- 
mo Veron (film editing) ably acquit- 
ted themselves of their technical chores. 
Cedric Gibbons’s recreation of the Port 
Huron. Michigan, of the young Tom 
Edison days, is a notable feature of the 
production. 

Interesting to students as a further 
demonstration of the screen's strength 
as a medium for the presentation of bio- 
graphical material, to make the past live 
again before our eyes. Enough youthful 
appeal to entertain the children and to 
create their interest in Edison, the Man. 
when the second picture is shown, the 
two thus becoming, from an educational 
standpoint , the greatest biographical 
lesson the screen has made available. 
Exhibitors should find it profitable 
booking. 


Fields- 1 Fest Film 
Rather A Poor One 


MY LITTLE CHICKADEE, Universal Pictures 
Director Edward F. Cline 

Producer Lester Cowan 

Original screen play Mae West, W. C. Fields 
Director of photography Joseph Valentine, ASC 
Art director Jack Otterson 

Associate art director Martin Obzina 

Film editor Edward Curtiss 

Musical director Charles Previn 

Musical score Frank Skinner 


Cast: Mae West, W. C. Fields, Joseph Calleia, 
Dick Foran, Ruth Donnelly, Margaret Hamil- 
ton, Donald Meek, Fuzzy Knight, Willard Rob- 
ertson, George Moran, Jackie Searl, Fay Adler. 


L TI TLE to recommend it. I like the 
brand of comedy Bill Fields dishes 
out, but the weak story background we 
have here is too great a burden for him 
to carry alone. He gets no help from 
Mae West who still relies upon her hips 
to carry the burden of her performance. 


I have no quarrel with hips as necessary 
adjuncts to human locomotion, but I 
do object to them as a media of expres- 
sion. I have seen all the pictures in 
which Mae West has appeared, and have 
grown weary of the succession of dup- 
lications of the characterization she con- 
tributed to the first, which, if memory 
serves me correctly, entertained me main- 
ly by virtue of the strength of the story 
it told. 

Here we have a story devoid of clev- 
erness to keep continuous the interest of 
the audience. It has clever people in it 
and no fault can be found with the 
direction Edward Cline gave it, but on 
the whole it proves more boring than en- 
tertaining. That is my individual opin- 
ion. The story obviously was designed 
solely to string together the appearances 
of the two stars — the only kind of story 
we might have expected when the credits 
revealed it was written by the two stars. 
If Universal had employed trained screen 
writers to provide an intelligent screen 
play, the stars would have appeared to 
better advantage than they do in one 
created by themselves solely to exploit 
themselves. 

Universal has given My Little Chick- 
adee a worthwhile production and a 
good cast, but the whole thing sums up 
to rather dull entertainment. 

Not for children, and nothing in it 
to engage the attention of students of 
the screen. Ardent fans of W. C. Fields 
and Mae West may be satisfied with it. 
For exhibitors it Will depend upon the 
box-office value of the star names. 

If allace Beery Is 
A Scalawag Again 


THE MAN FROM DAKOTA, MGM 


Producer 
Director 
Screen play 
Musical score: 
eatrof. 

Art director 
Associate art director 
Make-Up created by 
Director of photography 
Film editor 


Edward Chodorov 
Leslie Fenton 
Laurence Stallings 
David Snell, Daniele Amfith- 


Cedric Gibbons 
Malcolm Brown 
Jack Dawn 
Ray June, ASC 
Conrad A. Nervig 


Cast: Wallace Beery, John Howard, Dolores 
Del Rio, Donald Meek, Robert Barrat, Addison 
Richards. Frederick Burton, William Haade, 
John Wray. 


II/HA I merit this picture has is due to 
rr the direction given it. It is the third 
production of feature length which Les- 
lie Fenton has directed. In the other 
two he was fortunate in having stories 
which were worth while, and out of 
them he made pictures which stamped 
him as one of the most promising — if 
not the most promising — young direc- 
tors in Hollywood. In The Man From 
Dakota he has a story which no director 
could make into completely satisfying 
screen entertainment, but Fenton’s di- 


rection gives it values which save it 
from becoming a complete loss. 

The story takes us back to Civil War 
days and deals with the frustration of 
a plan of the Southern army to lead 
General Grant into a trap. Which gen- 
ius on the Metro lot had the idea that 
while the soil of foreign countries is be- 
ing drenched with soldiers’ blood, is a 
good time to revive a bloody episode in 
our own history, I do not know, but I 
cannot commend the idea as one which 
will be accepted with favor by Ameri- 
can audiences. War is one thing we 
would like to forget, and Metro goes to 
considerable expense to remind us of it. 
to sell us more of it in the guise of 
entertainment. 

Story Is Mechanical 

•I The story is a spotty one, consisting 
of pieces which even good direction 
could not stick together closely enough 
to keep the uneven splices from show- 
ing. But it provides opportunities for 
three excellent main performances and 
quite a number of secondary ones. 
Wally Beery is again the roughneck 
scallawag, a characterization which has 
typed him so fixedly as to suggest the 
wisdom of permitting him to play 
something radically different to surprise 
and delight audiences everywhere. Do- 
lores Del Rio comes back to us in this 
picture, ornaments it and contributes a 
performance which is one of the big 
features of the production. It takes 
forceful acting to justify her appear- 
ance, as a hole had to be cut in the 
story to make room for her, but the in- 
trusion is justified by the strength of 
her contribution and is valuable as a 
reminder to producers that in her they 
have been overlooking an accomplished 
and beautiful actress. 

John Howard is coming along rap- 
idly, each of his performances being a 
little better than the one which preceded 
it. In I he Man From Dakota he is 
really excellent, thanks to direction 
which permitted him to develope his 
characterization intelligently. All the 
others in the cast struggled gamely 
against the story odds which confronted 
them. The picture is given the complete 
production which characterizes every 
film Metro turns out. Ray June’s cam- 
era had a wide range of light and shade 


If You Enjoy 

Good Southern Home Cooked Food 

Try the 

CANTERBURY COFFEE SHOP 

1746 North Cherokee 
. . . NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC . . . 

Breakfast . . Luncheon . . Dinner 
AT POPULAR PRICES 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


to poke its nose into, and it brought to 
the screen many fine shots. Wide ter- 
rain, marching soldiers and artillery 
movements presented interesting prob- 
lems in film editing, all of them being 
solved successfully by Conrad Nervig. 

Rather a waste of a brilliant young 
director's genius. Selection of story a 
psychological blunder. Will not dis- 
appoint Berry fans, and all the perform- 
ances will please. Hardly for children. 

Tarkington Story 
Much Modernized 

SEVENTEEN, Paramount 
Associate producer Stuart Walker 

Director Louis King 

Screen play: Agnes Christine Johnston, Stu- 
art Palmer. 

Based on the story by Booth Tarkington 

Based on the play by: Stuart Walker, Hugh 
Stanislaus Strange, Stanford Mears. 
Director of photography Victor Milner, ASC 
Art directors Hans Dreier, Franz Bachelin 
Editor Arthur Schmidt 

Sound recording Earl Hayman, Walter Oberst 
Cast: Jackie Cooper, Betty Field, Otto Kruger, 
Ann Shoemaker, Norma Nelson, Betty Moran, 
Thomas Ross, Peter Hayes, Buddy Pepper, 
Donald Haines, Richard Denning, Jody S. Gil- 
bert, Paul E. Burns, Hal Clements, Edward 
Earle, Stanley Price, Joey Ray, Snowflake, 
Hattie Noel. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

F RAGRANT with the sweet dreams 
of puppy love and brisking with the 
capers of adolescence, Booth Tarking- 
ton’s famed Seventeen again comes to 
the screen. It is a highly modernized 
version of the story that Paramount pre- 
sents. The snappy vernacular of yester- 
year has been replaced by the snazzy 
vernacular of today; jitterbugging, road- 
ers, including a snorting jaloppy em- 
blazoned with epigrams, and a night 
club feature as youth’s diversions. It 
was a right good tale Tarkington dash- 
ed off, one touching on fundamental at- 
titudes and problems of youth — and of 
parents — and the yarn holds up staunch- 
ly for all its alterations and furbelows. 
Like a good piece of Georgian architec- 
ture, it can stand a lot of tampering 
with. 

If the present piece seems sometimes 
just a little cluttered with modernity — 
and a Hollywood brand of modernity 
— and if one misses a certain simplicity 
and homespun quality that lent an en- 
gaging spirit to the book, nevertheless 
Seventeen provides buoyant and inter- 
est-sustaining entertainment The pic- 
ture has considerable nostalgic appeal 
too; indeed the elders may take to the 
film more than adolescents, who, even 
as the characters herein portrayed, often 
like to imagine themselves as other than 
they are. The Paramount people are 
leaving no stone unturned to impress 
the budding generation with the notion 
that it is being glorified, however. Sev- 


enteen misses, age 1 7, were brought 
from 1 7 states to attend the preview 
and be wined and dined — or maybe 
only dined. What with the preview 
taking place on Valentine day and all 
the youthful flurry and palpitation, it 
was really a gala occasion. 

Of Jackie and Willie 

CJ Most of the familiar incidents of the 
story are at least represented in Agnes 
Christine Johnston’s and Stuart Pal- 
mer’s screen play — Willie Baxter’s pry- 
ing and revealing little sister, his bor- 
rowing father’s dress suit to impress the 
flirtatious Lola Pratt from Chicago, and 
so on. A good deal of action here hinges 
around Willie's trading his old jaloppy 
in for a presentable roadster and then 
trying to raise the money for the pav- 
ments. 

Needless to say, jackie Cooper gives 
a convincing, an amusing and appealing 
interpretation of young Baxter. Seemed 
to me, though, that in the direction 
some opportunities for humor were 
overlooked in not emphasizing more 
the boy’s aspiration to maturity, his 
assumption of manly and worldly 
characteristics, which practice is one of 
the most amusing tendencies of adoles- 
cents. In this and in several other di- 
rections — for instance, in giving out his 
money so generously at the night club 
— Cooper seems a mite too casual. Nat- 
uralness and casualness are not just the 
same things. Characterization implies 
the assemblage of dominant characteris- 
tics. It is a good show Cooper gives, 
within a certain interpretative range, 
but it is hardly a departure from other 
portrayals he has given. Willie Baxter 
is certainly a character. 

Betty Field Registers 

As the streamlined Lola, Betty Field 
is a very scintillating and beguiling 
young creature. The new Lola evident- 
ly is a spoiled brat, refers to her parents, 
who had obstructed her elopement, as 
“obstreperous,” addresses all the young 
men as “darling,” goes in for too much 
make-up, including artificial eyelashes. 
She flaunts too what she considers the 
last word in vernacular — many a sen- 
tence takes an interrogative upswing at 
the close, with greatly altered, some- 
times uncertain meaning, thusly, “Who 
do you think you are — anyhow?” Miss 
Field carries off the part capitally, “but 
definitely.” 

Louis King’s direction, by and large, 
is most whimsical and sympathetic. 
Good performances are gotten from a 
number of other young people, Norma 
Nelson, as sister Jane, Betty Moran, 
Buddy Pepper, Donald Haines and the 
promising Peter Hayes. Of the adults, 
Ann Shoemaker gives an understanding 
performance as Willie’s mother, and 
Otto Kruger does well as the father. Art 
direction is discerning, the photography 
of Victor Milner pleasant. Good editing 


is contributed by Arthur Schmidt. As- 
sociate producer was Stuart Walker, who 
had a hand in adapting and staging 
the legitimate stage version some years 
back. 

Tarkington' s noted story of adoles- 
cence has been given a good many fur- 
belows of modernity , but the present 
version has human-interest appeal and 
humor. Youth does not change in 
fundamental ways, nor do its problems. 
Elder spectators should like the picture 
as well as the younger ones, possibly 
more so, for it has a nostalgic quality. 
Emphasis is decidedly on humor, how- 
ever. Contains nothing especially to call 
to the attention of study groups. 

Blonde Damsel Is 
Really A Meanie 

FREE, BLONDE AND 21, 20th Century-Fox 
Executive producer Sol M. Wurtzel 

Director Ricardo Cortez 

Original screen play Frances Hyland 

Director of photography George Barnes, ASC 
Art direction Richard Day, George Dudley 
Film editor Norman Colbert 

Musical director Samuel Kaylin 

Cast: Lynn Bari, Mary Beth Hughes, Joan 

Davis, Henry Wilcoxon, Robert Lowery, Alan 
Baxter, Katharine Aldridge, Helen Ericson, 
Chick Chandler, John Valerie, Elise Knox, Dor- 
othy Dearing, Herbert Rawlinson, Kay Lina- 
ker, Thomas Jackson, Richard Lane. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
ODELED along the lines of the re- 
cent Hotel For Women, this one 
again lets us in on the gambols of the 
girls in a New York hostelry for the 
fair sex. And what a gilded and glam- 
orous life the fair ones lead. Dates to 
the point of ennui — though largely with 
sojourning buyers and such — expensive 
clothes, elegant apartments, all these and 
more the big city has showered in their 
laps. Evidently all the young things are 
eminently successful in one way or an- 
other, though two or three are preening 
their fine feathers in a gilded cage, if 
you possibly can conceive what I mean. 
Doubtless many a small-town maiden 
will decide she is wasting her fragrance 
on the desert air and entrain for the big 
city after Free, Blonde and 21 — which 
takes the crocheted something or other 
for tawdry titles — has been screening at 
the local Bijou. 

Those not so susceptible to cine- 
matic enchantments will find the picture 
fair entertainment of the popuar sort, 
cream-puff fare. The spectacle of a cross- 
section of metropolitan femininity, ea- 
ger and foot-loose, is diverting; the 
theme has not been overworked — as yet. 
Most of the story turns out to hinge 
around a blonde miss who is certainly a 
meanie. First she fakes an attempted 
suicide in an effort to scandalize a mar- 
ried man who has chosen between her 
and his wife — though the ruse does not 
work — and then nearly ruins the life of 



MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE SEVEN 


a handsome young doctor she comes to 
know at the hospital. 

Part Seems Rather Synthetic 

CJ Mary Beth Hughes certainly brings an 
abundance of lush and sensuous quali- 
ties to the role. In a recent review I 
said that no young screen actress I had 
seen struck me as being more favorably 
endowed for filling the niche of the late 
Jean Harlow. Now and then, however, 
we feel her performance could have been 
further developed, and occasionally her 
essayal does not quite ring true. Doubt- 
less Miss Hughes can stand some further 
grooming in the art of Thespis, but for 
these fluctuations she is not altogether 
responsible. The part itself seems to be 
rather synthetic. One wonders if Fran- 
ces Hyland, the capable writer of the 
screen play, did not think up at least 
some of the girl's meannesses before she 
thought up the girl. 

At any rate, the girl’s resourceful- 
ness at deception does not always seem 
consistent wiith her naive behavior at 
other times. Motivation of the char- 
acter might have been improved at times, 
I believe, by the direction, especially in 
a concluding scene when she is being 
grilled by the police. Apropos of the 
screen play, a good many cash customers 
are going to wonder how the young doc- 
tor manages to carry the injured gun- 
man — the lass tells him the latter is 
her brother — into a beach house belong- 
ing to a friend. Surely the place would 
have been locked. 

Lynn Bari Agreeable 

Direction by Ricardo Cortez is gener- 
ally competent. Lynn Bari, in a not 
very eventful part, again shows increas- 
ing finesse and sparkle. I should not be 
surprised to see her in a starring spot 
some day. Joan Davis is highly amus- 
ing as an officious maid, and Henry 
Wilcoxon, Robert Lowery, and Alan 
Baxter give substantial shows. The sets 
by Richard Day and George Dudley, 
with decorative frills by Thomas Little, 
are, as I have intimated, extremely la- 
de-da. George Barnes’ photography adds 
to the glamour. Despite the large num- 


HOLLYWOOD DOG 
TRAINING SCHOOL 


Carl Spitz, Owner 
Fritz Bache, Manager 


Phone 12350 Riverside Drive 

North Holly. 1262 No. Hollywood, Calif. 


ber of characters involved, the film 
moves along at a good clip, indicating 
dexterous editing on the part of Norman 
Colbert. 

A fairly diverting yarn of the popular 
sort. The gods from the shoit factory 
may like it a good deal; more discrim- 
inating patrons may deem it somewhat 
too fluffy. Contains nothing for study 
groups. Not the best fare for children. 

Gentleman Crook 

Quite a Fellow 

THE LONE WOLF STRIKES, Columbia 
Producer Fred Kohlmar 

Director Sidney Salkow 

Screen play Harry Segall, Albert Duffy 

Story Dalton Trumbo 

Based upon novel by Louis Joseph Vance 
Photography Henry Freulich 

Cast: Warren William. Joan Perry, Eric Blore, 
Alan Baxter, Astrid Allwyn, Montagu Love, 
Robert Wilcox, Don Beddoe, Fred A. Kelsey, 
Addison Richards, Roy Gordon, Harland 
Tucker, Peter Lynn. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

HOROUGHLY a master-mind is the 
Lone Wolf, who here temporarily 
forsakes a life of retirement, a lush ex- 
istence amid his domestic aquarium of 
many rare fish, and steps back into the 
hazardous pursuit of purloining. This 
time, though, the fellow is on the side 
of justice, having consented, as a favor 
to an attorney friend, to recover a string 
of valuable pearls from a gang of crooks. 
And what strategy the man adopts; 
people are mere puppets in his hands. 
No untoward development can discon- 
cert him; he can turn any situation to 
his advantage. Of course, it is all so 
much blarney, but there is a certain 
satisfaction in watching a fellow crea- 
ture be so enormously clever. Rather 
flattering to the species. 

The finesse with which Warren Wil- 
liams interprets the character is the pri- 
mary asset of the picture. The event- 
fulness of the story, rapid movement, 
and some effective suspense are other 
good points. It is a crook drama of 
standard entertainment value. 

Some Loose Threads 

•J As usual, fortune smiles upon our 
gentleman crook — pardon me, ex-crook. 
People accept phony pearls without both- 
ering to examine them. People fall into 
his trap exactly as he planned they 
would. The principal threads of the 
plot are brought together at the con- 
clusion and tied in a nice big bow, the 
crooks and police coming together at 
just the right time and place. At that, 
there are a few threads left loose. I 
cannot remember that the murder of the 
girl’s father was pinned on anybody, 
which was one of the Wolf’s asserted 
objectives. Nor can it be proven that a 


man and woman who first purloined 
the necklace, ever had it. 

Outstanding in the supporting cast 
are Eric Blore, Astrid Allwyn, Monta- 
gu Love. Joan Perry is satisfactory as 
the heroine, thought the fact that the 
girl she portrays makes an almost con- 
stant nuisance of herself, following the 
hero around and gumming up his plans, 
renders the actress’s appearances on the 
screen not always popular. Sidney Sol- 
kow has given good journeyman direc- 
tion. Lhe screen play was by Harry 
Segall and Albert Duffy, based on an 
original by the gifted and prolific Dal- 
ton Trumbo. 

A crook drama of a standard sort,. 
Substantial fare for a supporting posi- 
tion on the bill. Has nothing for study 
groups. All right for children. If they 
ask how. if crime does not pay. the Lone 
Wolf could have retired so comfortably . 
cook up something about his Aunt Lulu. 


ENTERTAINMENT 

VERYONE is talking about enter- 
tainment. Now, just what is it? 
It runs the gamut from the jig-saw 
puzzle to the football game, from the 
fun of old maid to pinochle. It includes 
the country dance and the fancy-dress 
ball. It vaults from leapfrog to the 
Olympic Games, from the rodeo to the 
Grand Opera. It projects from the toy 
lantern to the technicolor film. It ex- 
tends from a labor of love to revelry 
and carousal. All — for one purpose; to 
amuse, divert or recreate the partici- 
pants. 

Lhe Ancient Greek sought his relaxa- 
tion in the race and the arts. The Ro- 
man, as exaggerated by Nero at the 
burning of Rome, gloated in debauchery 
and dissipation. The Egyptian luxuri- 
ated at the festival on the Nile. The 
Englishman thrilled at the Derby or 
Cricket. The Spanish senorita flirted at 
the bull fight or sparkled at the fiesta. 
J he Norseman fused with the Mid- 
summer’s Eve merrymaking. Our Co- 
lonial dames and sires disported in the 
Quadrille or curtsied and bowed in the 
stately minuet. The South Sea islander 
regaled his queen at the Feast of the 
Flowers. The Oriental sprinted and 
dashed at the gymkhana. All, as some 
sage has said, for the feast of reason and 
the flow of the soul. 

Varied as the individual; diffuse as 
his ambitions; far-flung as his tastes; 
widespread as his ideal is man’s enter 
tainment. 

Who dares to hold a cold concrete 
cube of ice in his hand and keep it so? 
Who is so bold as to try to pick up the 
drops and reassemble them as a com- 
plete entity? Who has the courage to 
interpret conclusively the nebulous term, 
entertainment ? 

Isabelle Daniel. 



RAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


yhe iUtenihcf Post 


(Comments on Radio) 
( In Hollywood ) 


BY 

HOWARD WALTER FISK 


HEN KNX, now the key station for 
the West Coast for the Columbia 
Broadcasting System, first went on the 
air — really, the very first time— the edi- 
tor of the Hollywood Spectator stepped 
up to the mike and said, “This is KNX, 
the Voice of Hollywood." From that 
day to this — now more than ever be- 
fore — KNX has been and is truly the 
voice of Hollywood, the one station in 
the world which is more closely asso- 
ciated in the public’s mind with the 
picture industry than any other. 

Thus, we might say, that the Specta- 
tor was the first to recognize that this 
station would become the important link 
between filmdom and the rest of the 
nation that it has become. 

For some time the editor and staff of 
the Spectator have considered adding 
comments on radio to the contents of 
the magazine. Today’s page is the start. 
Only time will tell us whether to keep 
it up and whether it will be appreciated 
by the folk of the radio. No promises 
are made as to what we shall, or shall 
not do. Certainly as long as this writer 
has anything to do with the page, he 
will follow the established policy of the 
magazine — the truth as he hears it, 
come the hot place and high water. 

Mush and Mikes 

q Why is it that so many of our top 
motion picture stars are such flops on 
radio? There are quite a number of 
them who just cannot seem to click, 
and yet they are called back time and 
time again by the agencies handling the 
shows. The effect of their radio ap- 
pearances, as far as this scribe feels, is 
that they have said to themselves, “Here’s 
a chance to pick up a little extra money 
— my name will carry me.” The fact 
is, their names do not carry them with 
Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, and such 
bad performances are bound to affect 
the “take” at the box-office when their 
pictures are shown. Radio is an audible 
art, not a visual medium, and no mat- 
ter how effective a star might be in pic- 
tures, when he or she mushes into a 
mike the millions of listeners twist the 
dial to points starboard, and in a hurry. 

Roses to Rosemary 

Rosemary De Camp has long been 
one of our favorite radio actresses. For 
a couple of seasons now she has had the 
colorless role of Judy in Dr. Christian. 
Then she went on I Want a Divorce, 
and with telling effect. Her support of 
William Powell recently on Silver The- 
atre was a swell job. I am glad she is 
getting better breaks. She is as good, in 
most respects, as Lurene Tuttle, Helen 
Woods and others more favored in the 
past. And she improves in her work 


with every boost in billing. A rose to 
Rosemary. 

And to Nan Grey 

<| The several picture actresses, appear- 
ing frequently on radio, who please me 
most with their voices and talent are — • 
cheers for the Irish! — the Maureens, 
O’Hara and O’Sullivan, Geraldine Fitz- 
patrick and (no Irish here) Nan Grey, 
who is heard each week on Those We 
Love. Some day in the near future it is 
our purpose to devote some space to a 
comparison of the two top serials One 
Man's Family and the Agnes Ridgeway 
(“TWL”) script. But for the time 
being, here is a rose for Nan Grey. Her 
voice is so pleasing, her character of 
Kathie so well done. A grand combina- 
tion of writing and acting. Universal 
has a real property in Nan, who has a 
bright future. 

Odds and Ends 

<1 Do you agree that the Dr. Christian 
scripts have been much better this sea- 
son than last? I think so — even though 
they go a bit overboard on hokum at 
times. 

Aside to Mark Finley of KHJ : I 

have taken a rain check on that visit to 
your television broadcast. I am intense- 
ly interested, but have been very busy. 
Save me a seat. 

Late congratulations item: ToKMPC 
for its Columbia affiliation and for its 
sports round table with Claude New- 
man, Gene Coughlan, Max Stiles, John 
Connolly and Ed Kauch, five triple- 
threat players. 

If Virginia Sale of Those We Love 
is not a reincarnation of Aunt Josephine 
who lived next door to my grandmoth- 
er, she is getting ghostly coaching from 
the old lady. Every time she speaks I 
am transported to Hale, Carroll County, 
Missouri (pop. 400), and twenty-odd 
years drop off my life (in imagination 
only ) . 

LISTENING TO AIR SHOWS 

Silver Theatre (Sun., KNX- 
CBS) : Conrad Nagle is director of this 
series which is sometimes pure silver 
and other times has a “tinny” ring to 
it. Often it proves the radio players 
who support the stars are much the bet- 
ter actors. 

Pull Over Neighbor (Mon., 
KHJ): An interesting and wholly 

painless way in which to learn about 
your California. Some of the odd facts 
brought are surprising, many humorous. 

Bergen - McCarthy (Sun., KFI- 
NBC) : They said that Bergen could 

not hold this program up without its 
former bolstering. He is. And thank 
heaven he has spared us a torch singer, 


although at times Vera Vague is about 
as bad. 

Johnny Murry (Daily, KFI) : An 
early morning chat, presented in a pleas- 
ing manner and with highly interesting 
material. 

Lux Radio Theatre (Mon., KNX- 
CBS ) : This is the most carefully and 
effectively produced of any radio show. 
The material, both writing and acting, 
is not always as strong as it might be, 
but the flawless production makes you 
think it is. (Cecil B.De Mille, director.) 

Arch Obler’s Plays (Sat., KFI- 
NBC) : Obler is considered a genius, 

and I confess that he has written some 
stuff which I would have given my eye 
teeth to have written. But — week in 
and week out — these plays are (I can- 
not resist it) Obler-rated. They have, 
however, fine casts, but the pace of the 
scripts makes a jackrabbit out of a 
tortoise. 

Bob Hope (Tues., KFLNBC) : Ye 
gods. Every week the same thing. Fun. 
Fun. FUN. If I were a college fresh- 
man, I would be madly in love with 
Judy Garland’s voice, even though I 
had never seen her. Jerry Colonna is 
either v.g. or utterly n.g. — no half-way 
measures with him. “Brenda and Co- 
vina” are now stale stuff! 

Hollywood Playhouse (Wed., 
KFLNBC) : Charles Boyer has always 
impressed me as being utterly ineffective 
on the air, as compared with his splen- 
did screen appearances. But — mark this 
well — there bas seldom been a finer ra- 
dio characterization than his Cyrano. 
There was a job! 

Texaco Star Theatre (Wed., 
KNX-CBS) : The commercials on this 
show stress the fact that, “Your motor 
starts cold but runs hot.” This show 
starts hot and runs cold! The half pro- 
duced in Hollywood with Ken Murray, 
Kenny Baker, Irene, Frances Langford 
and Jimmy Wallington, does a pretty 
good job of getting the hour off to a 
warm start, but those New York half- 
hour dramas are so, so dull and so bad- 
ly produced. (Aside to Ken Murray, 
“The Murray Family” sketches are using 
up your anti-freeze.) 

Good News (Thurs., KFLNBC) : 
Somehow this show never quite clicks, 
and I think it is because there are too 
many people on it who are trying to be 
funny. Bill Gargan and Benny Rubin 
over-do their stuff (make it shorter and 
funnier), Baby Snooks (Fanny Brice) 
is always up to snuff. And, is Meredith 
Willson the maestro or the minstrel 
man? He cannot be both for my money. 
Edward Arnold m.c.’s, and it is a tough 
job on that show! 



MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE NINE 


BY 

DAVID BRUNO USSHER 


Jilin JfluAic and Jlfo tflakerA 


REAL SCREEN SCORE 

•J Those who are familiar with Max 
Steiner’s work covering the last half 
dozen years will agree, I believe, that 
his music for the Warner picture Dr. 
Ehrlich s Magic Bullet rates among his 
most worthwhile contributions to the 
art of film music. In the first place, it 
aids the picture considerably. Here is 
screen music in the ideal sense, sustain- 
ing long scenes of subtle growing dra- 
matic progress and intensity. It is one 
of the most difficult scores to describe be- 
cause of its nature, which is unspectacu- 
lar as the acting and the film as a whole. 
And this is as it should be, for other- 
wise it would be music leading its own 
course and separate life, and thereby be 
of no service to the screen. 

One speaks so readily of the enter- 
tainment purpose of the film. Here, too, 
is entertainment, if it must be called 
thus, but of a gripping, deeply absorb- 
ing, stimulating and challenging nature. 
It is not a pretty subject, nor is it a 
pretty tale, that story of hide-bound 
scientists, of red - tape - stringers, filled 
with prejudice, and breeding the same, 
against a pioneer who has divinatory 
knowledge, but not the proofs as yet. 
A great human document is this film 
and Steiner has framed and lighted it 
musically with true loyalty to the screen. 

Few Themes 

•I Steiner has based this long score for 
Dr. Ehrlich s Magic Bullet on a limited 
number of themes. The effect of the 
picture is heightened by music of par- 
alleling rather than supplementary mean- 
ing. The intellectual, emotional, gen- 
eral dramatic grip, suspense, the strug- 
gle and the friendly warmth of the story 
have been intensified by music which 
does not criss-cross the mental picture 
with melodic lines. To repeat, it is a 
greatly sustaining score. The story of 
the film is that of a scientist. Robinson 
leaves no doubt of the man's compassion, 
honesty and selflessness of aim, of his 
gentleness and determination. T he mu- 
sic makes him the finer, truer, softer 
and stronger. 

A hero in a chemist’s smock cuts no 
heroic figure, but the music is like the 
microscope Professor Ehrlich employs; 
it is like the very dyes by which he 
identified certain elements. A permeat- 
ingly psychologized score, which must 
sound engaging, although there is no 
boy-meets-girl’ romance in the story. 
There is the romance of science, and a 
deep love between Dr. and Mrs. Ehr- 
lich. Steiner has emphasized that human 
relationship with charming felicity, using 
a waltz, employing the Du, Du liegst 
mir am Herzen folk song when Frau 
Ehrlich knows that Ehrlich will not be 


many years more. The bond between 
an elderly couple facing the closing 
doors of life could hardly have been 
hinted with more lovable forcefulness. 
It would have been so easy to wax mu- 
sically melodramatic or cheaply operatic. 
Perhaps it is something in the Viennese 
Steiner who could bring up this naively 
ardent melody and bring it in once more 
during the final farewell. 

Music for Microbes 

CJ Steiner has splendid collaboration 
from Hugo Friedhofer, his orchestrator. 
in shaping the music with a gradual- 
ness which is never monotonous, yet 
which expresses search and pressure to- 
wards a goal, and not violent, obvious- 
ly climactic action. I would find it hard 
to define the themes of the various main 
characters. They melt into the general 
basic purpose of the music. There is 
healing theme, often heard in the high 
violoncello position. The music ac- 
companying the episode in which the 
blind man begins to see again, is like 
the removing of tonal opaqueness, layer 
after layer. Clever indeed is the use of 
bells (light ones, probably glockespiel ) 
when Ehrlich, for the first time, shows 
his slide of microbe photographs, i.e., 
the bacilli light colored against black 
background. The bell-like notes have 
a quite evident significance. One can 
hear in the music also something de- 
scriptive of Ehrlich's words about the 
’’slow forward turning motion of the 
baccili." Notable bits of writing ac- 
company also the scenes in the children’s 
ward. 

Eloquent Silences 

<J One has come to assume that it was 
well and proper not to have music dur- 
ing certain political speeches of Juarez 
and during Lincoln In Illinois on the 
ground that these were realistic mo- 
ments. What of the music, then, dur- 
ing scientific discussions in this screen 
play of Dr. Ehrlich and his magic bul- 
lets? It is a very real and quietly bitter 
quarrel when Ehrlich and Behring part 
ways at a critical moment, yet the use 
of a waltz is quite natural, and it still 
is natural when the waltz turns into an 
indication of something deeply disturb- 
ing having transpired. 

I have not the space to point out 
when Steiner, during some of Robin- 
son's most profound moments (and he 
is immensely moving, true of detail and 
emotionally affecting always) with- 
draws music altogether and leaves the 
scene exclusively to Robinson. Prob- 
lems have been solved here practically, 
for which one cannot set up rules. Story, 
script, direction, the actor — they are 
values never twice alike, yet the com- 


poser has provided a tonal counter-part 
as natural and varied as a man's shadow 
in the presence of the sun or the moon. 
Steiner is a natural composer for the 
screen. 

In this production a great deal of 
music occurs during dialogue. I am 
glad to say that music never interferes 
with the dialogue, partly thanks to the 
Steiner-Friedhofer treatment, also thanks 
to good recording and dubbing. Irving 
Rapper, director of dialogue; Robert R. 
Lee in charge of sound, and general mu- 
sic director, Leo F. Forbstein. all work- 
ed toward excellent results. 

GULLIVER AGAIN 

O PINIONS differ quite often not only 
regarding the character, but also rela- 
tive to the amount of music in a mo- 
tion picture production. The nature of 
the story, more often yet, the preference 
and the pocketbook of the producer de- 
termine the answer rather than any 
pr-nciple. There is general agreement 
only in the case of animated (i.e., car- 
toon) motion pictures, which are ac- 
companied invariably by music from 
start to finish. The latest example of 
this unanimity of opinion comes to the 
screen now in the Fleischer-Paramount 
production of Gulliver's Travels for 
which Victor Young has composed a 
cleverly atmospheric score. 

As many as seven songs occur in the 
film which runs less than ninety min- 
utes. If the high-rating of such tunes 
as Faithful Forever, Hap-Hap-Happy 
Day and / Hear a Dream is any indica- 
tion of the ability of Producer Max 
and Director Dave Fleischer to pick 
"best sellers,” then they were right. 
How these songs will do for the film 
in years to come remains to be seen. 

About Songs 

<]] In other words, songs can soon sound 
“dated.” However, music so organic- 
ally part of atmosphere and action as 
Young’s, without any attempt other 
than to strengthen the visual in its own 
terms of rhythm and color, is apt to 
share more fully the longevity which 
one may predict for Gulliver's Travels. 

I have no fault to find with Faithful 
Forever and the Dream by Rainger and 
Robin, nor with Happy Day which is 
accredited to Messrs. Timberg-Neiburg 
Sharpies. They are quoted at the head 
of weekly “hit parade listings" in the 
trade papers, but at present I can say 
but very little for them. Perhaps if I 
hear them again under less noisy cir- 
cumstances than the other night I may 
change my mind. But fully half of the 
seven songs, I am convinced, are below 


PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


average ingenuity. They lack spirit. 

Two nationally popular singers, Jes- 
sica Dragonette and Lanny Ross lend 
their voices to the princess and the 
prince, who, of course, supply the ro- 
mantic element. None of the singing 
sounds particularly endearing. In fact, 
the first soprano solo song is marred by 
a continuous and jittery tremolo, and 
Lanny Ross does not sing evenly all 
the time, despite the simplicity of the 
melodies. 

Artistic Skill 

•J Gulliver’s Travels is such excellent 
entertainment, and such a high blend of 
mirth, satire and inventively applied 
artistic skill, that the weaknesses I have 
mentioned matter little. I know that 
Dave and Max Fleischer have spared no 
efforts to serve beauty quite as much as 
necessary box-office considerations. They 
have served the screen well and I am 
sure with due material gain as well. 

Both Fleischers have planned and 
made Gulliver’s Travels with acute un- 
derstanding and concern for musical 
possibilities. Not only had every scene 
been calculated in terms of beats and 
measures, so as to leave Composer 
Young room to make naturally and 
dramatically coursing music, but the 
visual action has been designed with a 
sense of phrasing, rhythm and long sus- 
tained cadence, which makes the com- 
plete picture something enjoyable in 
the sense visual action rhythm and flow. 

This has. of course, helped Young 
in writing the score, difficult as it must 
have been to compose music for a pic- 
ture containing so much minute and so 
much simultaneous, and often speedy 
motion. He has succeeded brilliantly, 
in terms of action and moods. 

Clever Ideas 

fl Perhaps the Fleischers thought it wise 
to provide points of rest in the constant 
movement of story-action when they 
left space for seven songs, although two 
of these tunes are lively enough, espe- 
cially the All’s Well. For that matter 
one of the chief action motives in the 
entire film is based on the quarrel and 
the war between two Lilliputian kings 
as to which song shall be sung at the 
wedding of their children. 

It would blunt the point of Fleischer 
humor to tell more, except that later on 
both songs are aptly combined into one. 
This is a film-musical idea, much to 
their credit. 

Young has written capital music for 
the grand “alarum” when Gabby races 
up hill and down dale like streaked 
lightning to spread the horror tale of 
the presence of the giant on the beach. 
The mobilization music preceding the 
war is neat, too. 

One of the most adroit and minutely 
elaborate pieces of musical writing oc- 
curs during the tying and hoisting up 


of Gulliver, ending with genuine sun- 
rise music. Badly reproduced at the 
preview, it sounded then monotonous. 

The search for the Giant at night on 
the beach, when Young counterpoints 
the flitting lantern lights, the music of 
the waves, also episodes for Bombo’s 
spies and for his bird-messengers, are 
but a few instances in a fascinatingly 
illustrative cartoon score. 

* * * 

Columbia Recordings include a Bala- 
laika album featuring Ilona Massey and 
Nelson Eddy. Decca has two more pic- 
ture albums in the offing. One is to 
contain all the film songs Marlene Deit- 
rich has sung, beginning with Blue 
Angel. The other album is devoted to 
Disney's Pinocchio. Curiously enough, 
the musical director for the last named 
is Victor Young, composer-conductor 
for the feature-length cartoon Gulliver's 
T ravels. 

;jc * * 

Edmund Goulding will direct a War- 
ner Brothers re-filming of Margaret 
Kennedy’s amusing and yet by no means 
entirely light novel The Constant 
Nymph. It contains psychological prob- 
lems of broad character, complicated by 
a composer’s temperament. Whoever 
will be assigned to do the score has a 
wonderful chance for pointed and poig- 
nant musical hinting. The film con- 
tains a concert episode in which a sym- 
phony is being premiered. In the Lon- 
don-made film a part of a Sinfometta 
by Goossens has been interpolated. War- 
ners should have music written for the 
occasion, and it might be based on the- 
matic material used earlier in the film. 
Goulding, it is good to know, is a 
music-minded screen director, but so are 
Jack Warner and his production chief, 
Hal Wallis. 

and JilinA 

By Ina Roberts 

<J The Foster Memorial Library at 
Pittsburgh LIniversity (Stephen Foster 
was born at Pittsburgh ) produced pho- 
tographs and drawings of his birthplace 
that enabled Twentieth Century-Fox to 
re-create the house for Swanee River. 
In addition the library helped materially 
in showing the studio what Don Ame- 
che, Andrea Leeds and A1 Jolson should 
look like in their respective roles of 
Foster, his wife and E. P. Christy, the 
minstrel man. 

Closer cooperation between films and 
museums is to be desired. This is still 
another strand among the many that 
are weaving films into the fabric of our 
national life. That films are realizing 
their responsibility in the matter is evi- 
denced in the article following. 

I have mentioned before the fact that 
recent films based on the history of 


various cities is bringing those cities 
closer to all of us; the premieres held in 
the towns bring actual business, some- 
thing most places and most people neec 
today. Perhaps the time is coming when 
we shall realize that it is not competi- 
tion that is the life of trade; it is co- 
operation. Competition helps one (per- 
haps) ; cooperation helps all concerned. 

The $75,000 Dr. Paul Ehrlich col- 
lection gathered by Warners for props 
in The Magic Bullet will be sent to New 
York for exhibition at the premiere. 
Let us hope this collection will finally 
find its way to the appropriate Museum. 

Films and Museums 

<7 I quote in the following Walter 
Wanger* newly elected president of the 
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 
Sciences : “"The 8,500 creative artists of 
Hotly woocTand the 85,000,000 weekly 
theatregoers of the LInited States have 
more in common than mere entertain- 
ment,” says Mr. Wanger. “The screen 
is the greatest single social influence, 
expanding as well as interpreting the 
American way of living for the whole 
world. There should be closer under- 
standing between the film creators and 
their audience.” 

Wanger Speaks 

CJ The premiere of Abe Lincoln in Illi- 
nois at Lincoln Memorial Universty. 
Harrogate, Tennessee, January 27th was 
a triple jubilee, commemorating the fif- 
tieth anniversary of the University and 
the film industry, also of the nearby 
city of Middlesboro, Kentucky. 

As part of the celebration, the Lin- 
coln University is offering two prize 
scholarships to high school seniors in 
the United States who write the best 
essay on the subject, “A Student Looks 
at Abe Lincoln in Illinois.” 

The first prize will be a four-year 
scholarship covering room, board and 
tuition; the second, a scholarship cov- 
ering one-half these expenses. The con- 
test will begin on Lincoln’s birthday, 
1940 and end at midnight May 15, 
1940. Winners wil be announced June 
3, 1940. Robert E. Sherwood, author 
of the Pulitzer Prize play and adapter 
of the film, wil be one of the judges; 
the others include University officials. 
* * * 

We never know which minute will 
be our next. Nan Grey’s interest was 
aroused in a new hobby when she saw 
the aray of pewter ware used as props 
in the kitchen and dining room sets or 
The House of Seven Gables now in pro- 
duction at Universal Studios. As soon 
as she finishes work on the film Nan 
will concentrate on getting a collection 
of early New England pewter ware. 


★ When block-booking is abolished the 
exhibitor will need a source of un- 
equivocally reliable reviews. The Spec- 
tator affords them. 


MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE ELEVEN 


Screen Academy and the Jield jft CcCerA 


By Donald Gledhill 
Executive Secretary. Academy of Motion 
Picture Arts and Sciences for publication 
in the Spectator and the Journal of 

Educational Sociology. New York 

ENT ION the Academy of Motion 
Picture Arts and Sciences in almost 
any part of the civilized world and you 
will hear the statement: "Oh, yes, 

that’s the organization which presents 
gold Statuettes, called 'Oscars,’ for the 
outstanding achievements in motion pic- 
tures each year." 

The annual Awards selection, how- 
ever, is only one of the Academy’s activ- 
ities, the others being of specialized im- 
portance within the industry and not 
brought to general public attention. 
The major functions of the Academy 
since its inception in 1927 have been 
to uphold the cooperative idea in a 
highly competitive and temperamental 
milieu, to maintain authoritative in- 
formational facilites, and to serve as the 
social tree from which have sprung 
(sometimes explosively) most of the 
other important organized talent groups 
within the motion picture production 
industry. I he word production is em- 
phasized as the Academy has at no time 
been involved with either distribution 
or exhibition. 

Prior to Its Founding 

•I Before the founding of the Academy 
there had been little attempt to organ- 
ize groups among the picture people 
either for exchange of creative ideas, so- 
cial activities or economic protection. 
Hollywood was a town of individual- 
ists, surging from the boom years fol- 
lowing the war. If a studio and an ar- 
tist had a contractual difference it was 
publicly aired in the courts. In the 
technical field each studio jealousy guard- 
ed whatever mechanical experiments 
were being made. Science was hardly 
aspired to and the mention of art was 
still very self-conscious. 

No one conferred with anyone except 
his immediate employer. Each actor, 
director and writer stood alone and 
fought his own battles, although it 
should be pointed out that a good deal 
of camaraderie had carried over from the 
pioneering and bonanza periods. If the 
individuals were not organized as we 
think of organization now, neither were 
the studios. It was only toward the end 
of the era before sound that motion pic- 
tures became an integrated industry. 

Originally Five Branches 

Then in May, 1927, the Academy 
of Motion Picture Arts was organized. 


and Hollywood began to be group con- 
scious. 

The Academy was originally set up 
with five branches — Actors, Directors, 
Producers, Technicians and Writers. 
Each group had equal representation on 
the controlling Board of Governors and 
a semi-autonomous branch organization 
of its own. T he late Douglas Fairbanks 
was elected first president. The decision 
to honor distinguished achievements was 
reached and the Annual Awards came 
into being. 

Subsequent presidents have included 
Conrad Nagel, William C. de Mille, 
J. T. Reed, M. C Levee, Frank Lloyd 
and Frank Capra (current) , each serv- 
ing more than one term. The late Irv- 
ing G. Thalberg was active in the lead- 
ership for many years. The present 
membership is about 800. 

Stimulates Community Morale 

<f While the Academy from the begin- 
ning has been an exclusive, invi- 
tational organization, with professional 
achievement as a requisite, the idea of 
all branches of creative talent meeting 
around a common table has stimulated 
the morale of the entire community. The 
Academy was unique at its founding 
and still remains the only example in 
a major industry of a professional or- 
ganization in which the responsible ex- 
ecutives of competitive companies and 
a wide diversity of employees meet as 
individuals, discussing and taking action 
on industry problems. 

The singular nature of picture pro- 
duction, in which a star or director may 
receive more salary than a ranking ex- 
ecutive and in which the same individual 
may be employed as a writer a director 
and a producer in the same year, contrib- 
uted to the practicality of this idea until 
the rising tide of strictly labor union 
orgnaization, following the NRA, pro- 
vided more forceful machinery for deal- 
ing with economic problems and the 
Academy withdrew entirely from the 
economic field. 

Takes Over Relief Fund 

<J The theory of individual personal 
participation on the basis of general in- 
dustry good citizenship, without regard 
to economic status, continues to char- 
acterize the Academy and provides ef- 
fective machinery for cooperative activi- 
ties. 

One of the first responsibilities early 
recognized by the new Academy was 
that of caring for the needy veterans of 
even so young an industry. In 1929, 
one of the most important steps ever 
taken in Hollywood was that of remov- 


ing the Motion Picture Relief Fund from 
the Community Chest and establishing 
it within the industry, the means of as- 
sessing employed actors a percentage of 
their salaries for support of the fund 
being worked out by the Academy. 

With technicians from all studios 
drawn together for the first time came 
the realization that Hollywood should 
have a central group of engineers work- 
ing for the common advancement. The 
result was the setting up of the Academy 
Research Council. The best technical 
brains of all major studios here work 
together with the result that their re- 
search, coordination and standardization 
have been worth untold thousands of 
dollars to the studios. The abrupt 
change to sound pictures in 1929-30 
brought increasing importance and com- 
plexity to this department. 

Given Individual Importance 

•J Returning to the matter of group 
consciousness, the fact that the Acad- 
emy was organized by branches made 
each one more conscious of its individ- 
ual importance. Together with the 
stresses set up by the NRA, the result 
was that in the spring of 1933 the 
Screen Writers Guild came into active 
life with much the same leadership as 
had been elected in the Academy writers 
branch, but with a definitely labor 
union organization and theory. Similar- 
ly and shortly thereafter the Screen Act- 
tors Guild, the Society of Motion Pic- 
ture Film Editors and the Screen Pub- 
licists Guild. 

In 1 928 the cameramen organized 
under the International Alliance of 
Theatrical Stage Employees and Mov- 
ing Picture Machine Operators, better 
known as the IATSE. By 1930 the 
sound technicians and laboratory work- 
ers were organized under the IATSE 
and group consciousnes in motion pic- 
tures since then has so kept pace with 
the general trend of all industry that 
practically every unit group has its own 
organization, including even office work- 
ers. Hollywood has been in almost con- 
stant internal strife for the past five 
years, a condition now gradually com- 
ing to balance as the various groups 
recognized labor unions. 

Awards Become Important 

Throughout these years, while bit- 
terness and strife among various groups 
and the producing companies have been 
endemic, while group fought group as 
well as the studios, the Academy has 
continued as one organization in Holly- 
wood with a cooperative viewpoint and 
consistent purpose. Each year the An- 
nual Awards of Merit have become of 
more importance to the Industry and 



PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


of wider public interest because the 
Academy stresses the best in motion pic- 
tures. The awards have had a marked 
influence on the making of better films, 
not only in Hollywood but throughout 
the world. Creative artists prize the 
Academy awards as an accolade from 
their peers and strive to merit it. 

While voting was originally limited 
to members, in recent years the various 
Hollywood groups have joined in the 
balloting, under the continuous spon- 
sorship of the Academy. The actors 
nominate for actor awards, writers for 
writing awards, directors for the best 
directing, and the technicians devote 
weeks to committees and special show- 
ings in the selection of scientific award 
winners. The final ballot goes to all 
groups, including extras. 

Library of Great Value 

<| The Academy has built up a special- 
ized library on all phases of motion 
pictures until today it ranks among the 
top four of its kind in the world. As 
almost the only source of such informa- 
tion in Hollywood, the studios, writ 
ers on film subjects, and the public de- 
pend upon this library for reference and 
statistical data. Valuable collections of 
stills, early trade publications, year- 
books and scripts have contributed to 
its growth during the past year. 


Public goodwill is also cultivated for 
the industry by the Academy in many 
practical ways. The first university 
courses in photoplay appreciation were 
set up with Academy cooperation, and 
helpful contact is maintained with 
schools, public libraries and organiza- 
tions taking an intelligent interest in 
films. The studios turn over to the 
Academy library a heavy volume of 
mail from students and individuals con- 
cerned with more serious questions than 
are handled by the fan mail and pub- 
licity departments. Inquiries may be 
sent simply to the Academy, Holly- 
wood, or to the more specific address: 
Academy Library, 1455 North Gordon 
Street, Hollywood. 

Effected Great Savings 

In a direct way the Academy has 
saved motion picture actors and actresses 
thousands of dollars during the past 
three years. Previously Hollywood was 
overrun with private “casting director- 
ies" — publications containing the pho- 
tographs and credits of players. These 
were commercially exploited, and prices 
kept beyond the means of lower-paid 
actors. In 19 37 the Academy etsablish- 
ed a unified players directory service to 
end all such racketeering. In this publi- 
cation all names are treated alike, with 
the biggest star allowed no larger pho- 
tograph or more space than the most 


minor “bit” player. As a result the 
commercial directories have left the field 
and nearly all players requiring such 
representation use the Academy to the 
advantage of themselves and the studios. 

Until a few years ago there was no 
central compilation of the screen credits 
and contributing credits which are so 
important to individual careers. The 
Academy now publishes a twice-month- 
ly, cumulative bulletin of writer, director 
and production credits which is the 
official reference guide for the industry. 

Common Meeting Place 

q While Hollywood is the accepted cen- 
ter of the film world, it remained for 
the Academy to establish a common 
meeting place for creative personnel 
without regard to studio connection or 
branch of talent. The physical facilities 
have varied with the years but currently 
an Academy Review Theatre has been 
equipped with the finest sound projec- 
tion. In it the Southern California 
Film Society, fathered by the Academy, 
holds weekly showings of films which 
would otherwise rarely be seen in Holly- 
wood. These include classic films of the 
past, in many instances using the only 
print still in existence, together with 
unusual features from Europe and South 
America which are shown to the Acad- 
emy membership and a limited addition- 
al audience. 



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MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE THIRTEEN 



~TkU HcUifU ? W 


A BIG BATTLE LOOMS 

DELUGE of propaganda pro and 
con the Neely bill will descend upon 
an innocent public during the next few 
weeks. With the anti-block booking 
measure already passed by the Senate 
and likely to come up for a vote before 
the House ere the month of March has 
closed, approving and disapproving fac- 
tions are earnestly contending for the 
sympathy of Mr. John Public. Most 
of the campaigning against the bill is 
being waged by the Motion Picture 
Producers and Distributors Association, 
which comprises the eight major pro- 
ducer-distributor organizaitons. The 
most eager advocates of the bill are the 
independent theatre owners, though 
their indorsement is not unanimous, it 
must be said. Their principal mouth- 
piece is the Allied States Association of 
Motion Picture Exhibitors. 

This latter organization is issuing a 
“white book,' which will be devoted 
to rectifying assertedly misleading infor- 
mation disseminated by the former 
group. The Parent-Teachers societies 
and even the National Woman's Chris- 
tian Temperance Union are to be among 
the recipients of the tract. On the other 
hand, no less than 1,000,000 booklets, 
entitled “Let's Kill the Movies! No. 
Let’s Kill the Neely Bill.’’ are to be cir- 
culated by the aroused Motion Picture 
Producers and Distributors Association. 

Labor Groups Involved 

<1 The entire battle fronts are much 
too extensive to be surveyed here. Even 
the labor groups will probably enter 
the fray. The C.I.O. some months ago 
expressed itself as supporting the Neely 
Bill. Conversely, the A. P. of L. has 
taken a customarily counter position. 
In fact, I have already received some 
disaffirming material on the issue from 
that quarter. The contention may even 
tually even reach the screens of the 
country. 

Mr. John Public up till now has 
remained disappointingly unconcerned 
about the issue, and largely, it would 
seem, because of the issue's complexity 
and the divergent analyses of the situ- 
ation put forth by the opposing fac- 
tions; for certainly the fate of the mov- 
ies is a matter which should be of 
high concern to millions of fans. At 
any rate, John will have ample oppor- 
tunity to become either thoroughly il- 
luminated or more befuddled in coming 
weeks. 

Other Side of It 

{J 1 he Spectator has made no secret of 
its stand on the Neely Bill. Granting 
that a few provisions of the bill will 
need further interpretation and that its 


passage will necessitate considerable re- 
adjustment within the industry, it be- 
lieves the measure as a whole is a step 
in the right direction. The benefits its 
passage will bring to both the film in- 
dustry and the public have been set 
forth too many times in recent months 
to need repetition here. Suffice to say 
that when an exhibitor has to buy fif- 
teen pictures to get one or two he can 
use, there is something wrong some- 
where. J he film industry has had a 
long time to clean house from the in- 
side and has not done it to everyone’s 
satisfaction. 

Nevertheless, it would be less than 
fair to deny the opposition a hearing. 
The following are some of the main ar- 
guments advanced by the Motion Pic- 
ture Producers and Distributors Associ- 
ation against the bill, provided for our 
readers who have not yet had a book- 
let tossed their way. The substantial- 
ness of the various assertions the reader 
can judge for himself. They are as 
follows : 

As Producers See It 

•I T he Neely Bill would destroy ef- 
ficient, economical marketing of films. 
It would result in an increase in the 
cost of making films, or a decrease in 
the production value of pictures. It 
would result in financial disaster and 
chaos for the industry. 

It would open the way to private 
pressure censorship, thereby sharply re- 
stricting the freedom of the American 
people to make their own decisions in 
selecting their motion picture entertain- 
ment. 

It would result in increased admis- 
sion prices for the public. 

It would reduce substantially the 
number of pictures produced each year. 

It would curtail, probably by as 
much as one-half, the number of people 
employed in the industry. 

It would wreck the Production 
Code, which assured decent and whole- 
some entertainment. 

“It would bankrupt untold exhibit- 
tors, especially in small towns. 

It would wreck the present distribu- 
tion system, which enables the smallest 
theatres in the country to play the ident- 
ical pictures which play in the largest 
theatres, and at a reasonable rental price 
which the local exhibitors can pay, and 
with box-office admission prices which 
all the public can afford to pay. 

It would compel the motion picture 
industry to embark on an untried ex- 
periment over the protest of the over- 
whelming majority — at least 90 per 
cent — of those actually responsible for 
the making and marketing of motion 
pictures.’’ 


WHAT A PATRON THINKS 

PROPOS of Neely Bill. I am in re- 
ceipt of an interesting letter from a 
modest one who prefers to be known 
as "A Spectator reader" should I refer 
to her comments, a letter which sum- 
marizes the viewpoints of the layman 
with respect to the Neely measure and 
other impending federal legislation de- 
signed to regulate the motion picture 
industry. I quote: 

"Your excellent and thought provok- 
ing article, having to do with the chang- 
es that may be wrought in the motion 
picture industry by government legisla- 
tion. moves one to say that you review- 
ers and critics are not the only ones who 
are doing some speculating as to the 
outcome. We motion picture patrons 
are doing a bit of the same, although 
perhaps along different lines. 

"Lor instance, while we understand 
to a certain extent the processes of block 
booking' and ‘theatre chains’ and other 
technicalities having to do with the 
present method of distribution, it is, at 
the same time, all rather vague in our 
minds, and we feel that it is results 
alone that concern us. The method of 
accomplishment is up to the motion pic- 
ture industry, if it wishes to build up 
what is now an anemic box-office. 

“If we go on from there with a slight 
leaning toward the unit production — 
slight because we do not know a great 
deal about it, although it sounds good 
to us — and with a feeling that perhaps 
some independent producers in the field 
will do away with what has seemed to 
us to be a 'take it or leave it’ attitude 
on the part of the industry. And yet, 
that could not have been true either, be- 
cause what bad box-office such an atti 
tude would be, wouldn't it? 

“Hope that we will be spared the har- 
rowing details of enormous production 
costs beats high in our hearts. Stupen- 
dous figures have been hurled at us un- 
til we have felt the burden to be more 
than we could bear. We also hope that 
the keynote of production under the 
new regime will be wholesomeness mix- 
ed with buoyancy — and I do mean 
buoyancy, which is something quite dif- 
ferent than mere froth. In short, we 
motion picture patrons hope that the 
films (how we love ’em when they're 
good ) are going to be better than ever 
(please note the absence of the word 
bigger’) .” 

PRODUCTION PLANS ANNOUNCED 

FEWER pictures are to be made dur- 
* ing the 1940-41 season. Metro, 
Twentieth Century - Lox, and Para- 
mount studios are each planning to offer 
exhibitors only forty features for this 
period. The Metro people’s schedule for 




PAGE FOURTEEN 


HOl.T.YWOOD SPECTATOR 


this film year — terminating in August — 
is forty-six pictures. 1 he Fox plant 
will have released fifty-two. These 
smaller production schedules are a good 
sign. Manifestly the studios have been 
turning out too many pictures, and 
smaller schedules should result in better 
quality in the run of releases. 

Forty pictures a year is still too many, 
though. Probably not more than thirty 
features of any merit could be turned 
out by a single studio. Still, as I say, 
the reduction is a good sign. 

Some To Be Made Abroad 

A small portion of these pictures will 
be made abroad, in England, probably 
half a dozen by each firm. Alarm over 
Big-Bad-Wolf Hitler seems to have 
subsided, and production chiefs are re- 
turning to the shores from which there 
was a summary exodus of Holly woodites 
a few weeks back. The reason behind 
this braving of the bombs is to make 
use of profits which, by government de- 
cree, cannot now be taken out of Eng- 
land. Produced pictures can be. 

HEARING THROUGH THE EYES 

HOSE who have not of late reflected 
on the force of the silent pictures, 
how strongly they played on the imag- 
ination, should take note of the huge 
neon sign that tops the Hollywood Rec- 
reation Center, on Vine Street across 
from the N.B.C. studios. It pictures a 
bowling ball rolling toward a line-up 
of pins. The ball hits, there are chaotic 
neon flashes, the pins fly wildly. Your 
imagination does the rest: it makes you 
hear the ball hit — yes, sir, you can hear 
the ball's fierce, crackling, resounding 
impact with the pins. Watch it, some- 
time. 

Cleveland Reader 
Gives Some Advice 

O NE of the most active women in the 
potent Cinema Club in Cleveland . 
Ohio, is Bertelle M. Lytelle. In a let- 
ter to me. Mrs. Lytelle makes some dis- 
cerning remarks it would profit both 
producers and exhibitors to read. The 
letter follows. — \V. B. 

You and the other reviewers have 
given us enthusiastic accounts of Land 
of Liberty, the movie history of our 
country prepared by the industry for 
the two fairs, and now to be available 
"for every school in the country." To 
me it seems that such a picture belongs 
in the community show rather than in 
the regular school: it is a review of his- 
tory for the adult, instead of a presen- 
tation of the subject to the child who 
cannot understand so much at once, or 
who thinks he knows it all because he 
has seen such a film and so is less inter- 


ested in studying in detail the various 
periods. 

However, here n Cleveland it is im- 
possible to show ven "free" films with- 
out an overhead cost of $35 to $50, 
which must be born by someone. We 
of the Cinema Club believe that the 
present limitation that many films may 
not be shown where an admission fee is 
charged, should be changed to "may 
not be shown for profit," thus permit- 
ting a small admission designed to cover 
these necessary expenses. 

Suggestions for Exhibitors 

CJYou say you have a large circulation 
among exhibitors. We know you have 
among the producers. Don't you think 
it well to agitate for better showman- 
ship on the part of the theatres? Isn’t 
it time the old principle of offering 
something pleasant and something dis- 
tasteful to everyone in the audience, 
with a prayer that enough of the pleas- 
ant comes last to cause forgetfulness of 
the unpleasant, be discarded at least on 
a few days of the week, and particular- 
ly at the week-ends when our young 
people attend in droves and are having 
formed their ideas of art, harmony, 
beauty as well as morals? 

The better films movement, now 
powerfully aided by the study of movie 
art in the schools, is undoubtedly show- 
ing results at the box-office: otherwise 
how would any exhibitor dare to offer 
On Borrowed Time and Lost Patrol 
on the same Saturday-Sunday program, 
and expect to please his patrons? We 
are improving the demand for fine pic- 
tures and wholesome ones, but our peo- 
ple have many resources and are not 
compelled to patronize pictures they do 
not desire in order to see the ones that 
they do. How about justice to the pic- 
tures themselves? 

Pleasing Double Bill 

CJ Of course this is a plea for single fea- 
ture programs, but a double bill that 
stands out as a pleasing memory was 
Man of Aran and Unfinished Sym- 
phony. It might be possible to de- 
velop audiences for special types of pic- 
tures for special nights and thus have 
an easy placing for the fine art, adult 
picture. Again, care could be exercised 
to make each program harmonious as to 
the major feature, and then advertise 
each program to its proper audience. 
This means not to push the advertising 
of They Shall Have Music among the 
athletic clubs and labor unions, nor ex- 
pect the women's clubs to trust the 
judgment that urges them to attend 
either Real Glory or Each Dawn I Die. 
Also the advertising of the unusual pic- 
ture must not be trusted to trailer and 
the regular theatre promotion. The 
"unusual" audience never hears about 
the picture until too late. 

Another point: why must all pic- 


ture shows follow the same pattern? I 
cannot recall a time when we had such 
a large and varied assortment of fine 
short subjects as at present. The best 
of them do not suit the double feature 
scheme, and are overshadowed r m a 
single feature. I am thinking primarily 
of the short dramas of M-G-M and 
Vitaphone, secondly of the fine travel 
and novelty reels, and the new sym- 
phonic subjects from Paramount. 

Shorts for Saturdays 

<1 It seems practical to me for a cen- 
trally located theatre in our large cities 
to co-operate with the distributors in 
developing a Saturday audience for a 
two-hour show of these fine shorts. Ad- 
vertising should be a week in advance: 
one frame in the lobby near the street 
carrying the coming program for the 
information of all passersby, the news- 
paper ad of the theatre carrying the line 
about "short subjects on Saturday" just 
as some advertise their "owl shows": 
then a simple printed slip carrying the 
full program of next week's show to 
be distributed to this week’s audience: 
these slips should also be bulletined or 
distributed through libraries and schools. 

I hese films are largely documentary, 
and such a program, if well selected, 
should be a great cultural asset to any 
community. Why force such a program 
into the school houses and thus deprive 
it of the advantages of the theatre show- 
ing, the opportunity of reaching its 
greatest audience, and the inspiration for 
its artists of a greater recognition? Why 
not increase the use of these subjects? 
Why are the producers making them? 
Theatre men have told me the distribu- 
tors will not co-operate in any such ef- 
forts to serve the public. 

Afraid to Experiment 

The distributors control plenty of 
suitable houses to make the experiments 
themselves, and in Cleveland, at least, 
they are more accustomed to working 
with the Cinema Club and the Public 
Library than are the neighborhood the- 
atres. 

The industry deplores lost markets 
and lessening box-office, but is afraid to 
try experiments to have the maximum 
audiences for each picture, including the 
short subjects. Fewer pictures, but all 
good of their kind, and much better 
showmanship in program making and 
community service, is my suggestion for 
alleviating the financial difficulties of 
the box-office. 


★ Nick Carter is to sleuth again. Metro 
has purchased over 1,100 of the Nick 
Carter stories, the entire Street 13 Smith 
library with the exception of twelve 
stories. 

A Wayne Morris has been signed by 
Warner Brothers for a fourth year. His 
new release is Brother Rat and a Baby. 


MARCH 1, 1940 


PAGE FIFTEEN 


/ 


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SPECTATOR 


Twice Monthly 


Edited by WELFORD BEATON 


Fourteenth Year 


Los Angeles, California — May 1, 1940 


Vol. 14— No. 26 


REVIEWED 
(Page 5) 


EDMUND GOULDING 

His brilliant direction of "'Til We Meet Again" 
certainly entitles him to an even broader smile. 


Forty Little Mothers ★ 'Til We Meet Again ~k Johnny Apollo 
Buck Benny Rides Again ★ Two Girls on Broadway ★ 1,000,000 B. C. 

Dr. Kildare's Strange Case ★ Irene ★ The Saint Takes Over 
Grandpa Goes to Town ★ Tomboy 




'y/tcmL ~tke 

D I TORS 


EflSV CHAIR 


SPECTATOR TO HAVE A BIRTHDAY 

ITH its next issue Hollywood Spectator will enter 
its fifteenth year of effort to be of value to the 
motion picture industry as a business, and to its per- 
sonnel as artists working in a medium which requires 
for its continued existence large financial returns on 
both the mental and material investment in its plants 
and product. During its fourteen years it has devoted 
millions of its words to the championship of screen 
art, but each such discussion was inspired by its con- 
viction that only by meeting the demands of the art 
could the industry achieve the greatest possible ma- 
terial prosperity. 

No thought expressed by the Spectator was in- 
spired by consideration of its own material prosper- 
ity. As an advertising medium it has been ignored 
by those whom it has tried most to serve — the pro- 
ducers of motion picture entertainment. For the 
revenue essential to its continued existence it has 
been compelled to beg from the industry's personnel, 
whom also it has strived to serve. 

O nee more it appeals for the essential revenue. It 
asks those who approve at least its honesty, if not the 
logic of its opinions, the support it needs. It has but 
one thing for sale — advertising space. The next issue 
will be its Fourteenth Birthday Number. It hopes to 

have your advertisement in it. 

* * * 

IT IS WHAT WE AIMED AT 

RITES Ed win Schallert in reviewing "Vigil In the 
Night": ' The quiet tone of nearly all conversa- 
tions in the picture gives it singular power." To oet 
this "singular power" in all pictures has been the rea- 
son for the Spectator's constant plea for conversa- 
tions on the screen instead of bursts of oratory. 

* * * 

ACTING AND THE FILM BOX-OFFICE 
UOTING Jimmie Fidler on l wo of the Lane sisters, 
Rosemary first: "She studies the principles of act- 
ing, delving into the history of drama, applies herself 
like a leech to her music, and can expound by the 
hour on the technique of every great star in the busi- 
ness. In short, Rosemary's one absorbing interest in 
life is professional success. . . . Priscilla, on the other 
hand, doesn't seem a bit impressed by Hollywood's 
treasures. She takes her roles as they're assigned, 
races through them with a minimum of effort and a 
maximum of fun, and makes no bones about her will- 


ingness to throw it all overboard if the whim happens 
to strike her. I think she'd cheerfully turn her back 
on pictures tomorrow if she decided that she could 
have a better time by doing so." 

Then Jimmie Gets Inquisitive 

Jimmie proceeds to ask an interesting question: 
"In view of the fact that their backgrounds, personal 
charm and initial screen opportunities were approxi- 
mately the same, which of the two sisters would you 
expect to be more important professionally? Rose- 
mary, of course. Yet the reverse is true, and I doubt 
if there is a producer in Hollywood who can give you 
the exact 'why'." 

Jimmie's doubt is well founded. If Hollywood had 
one producer who could give the "why," he would be 
the only one who never would be bothered with a 
shortage of talent for his leading roles; he could make 
new stars with every picture he made. But the inter- 
esting question about the two Lane sisters is easy to 
answer. Priscilla is the greater box-office attraction 
by virtue of her complete disregard for anyone's con- 
ception of rules which govern screen acting; she goes 
slap-bang at everything given her to do, gets oodles 
of fun out of doing it, gets her personality on the 
screen, and lets her audience know she is having a fine 
time, lets it get acquainted with her, puts it in sym- 
pathy with her joys and sorrows. She gives her audi- 
ence what she feels. 

One With Emotions, One With Head 

tfl Rosemary gives her audience what she has learned. 
She has schooled her emotions to be expressed by 
rule. Priscilla acts with her emotions, Rosemary with 
her head. According to Jimmie, Rosemary has delved 
into the history of drama, and the deeper she delved 
the greater did she get away from screen require- 
ments, as all histories of drama deal with its expres- 
sion on the stage, none with its expression on the 
screen. The stage projects its message to the audi- 
ence; the motion picture camera enters a scene, re- 
cords the message, carries it to the audience. I he 
only thing the two media have in common is their use 
of players as their tools. 

In all the centuries of its history the stage never 
developed a Shirley Temple, a child who for years 
was the world's greatest box-office player. If the act- 
ing technique which distinguishes the stage consti- 
tuted the requirements of the screen, a seasoned 
stage actor would head the film box-office list. But 




HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR, published twice monthly at Los Angeles. Calif., by Hollywood Spectator Co.. 6513 Hollywood Blvd.; phone GLadstone 5213. Subscription price. $5 the year; two 
years. $8; foreign, $6. Single copies 20 cents. Entered as Second Class matter, February 21, 1940, at the Post Office at Los Angeles, Calif., under the act of Congress of March 3, 1879. 

PAGE TWO HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


wv _-v 1'ckey Rooney heads it, a youth still in his 
+ ee. . ; great stage player, one with years of train- 

ing rniuo the footlights, ever has headed it. 

PerSw..ciity Versus Serious Student 

€f I do not contend there is no place on the screen 
for purely stage performances, for a display of the 
technique the stage teaches. We have had scores of 
brilliant performances by players who have come 
from Broadway to Hollywood, performances w hich 
have dignified the screen and given it artistic pres- 
tige; but the text of this discourse is the difference 
in popular appeal between a pleasing personality 
(Priscilla) and a serious student of dramatics (Rose- 
mary) as film box-office assets. Making motion pic- 
tures is a business in which are invested billions of 
dollars throughout the world, therefore the box-office 
always must be the matter of first consideration. 

Almost every day the cinema pages in the news- 
papers tell us the difficulty this producer or that one 
is having in finding the right player for a part in a 
picture he is casting. If from the first producers had 
looked for personalities instead of for skilled players, 
if they had not been stampeded by the conviction 
that the screen went stage when it went talkie, there 
would be available today a dozen players for every 
leading part which needed filling. 

Spotting Talent Not Hard Job 

Cjf Spotting box-office possibilities is not difficult. 
Sometimes I feel I carry to excess my references to 
the Spectator's record in spotting prospective box- 
office personalities long before any producer has 
given them opportunities fully to display their wares. 
But my present argument calls for more such refer- 
ences. Two recent cases of the accuracy of the Spec- 
tator's guessing are those of Joan Fontaine, now star- 
ring in "Rebecca," which is doing big business wher- 
ever shown, in some cases breaking box-office rec- 
ords; and Anne Shirley, raised to stardom in "Satur- 
day's Children." Of Joan I wrote (Spectator, June 5, 
1937): "You may put her down as a young person 
who will achieve stardom rapidly." 

Of Anne I wrote, under the heading "New Star Is 
Rising," a brief paragraph which sums up my theory 
of screen acting (Spectator, January 4, 1936): "One 
can see Anne's future in her fine eyes. They reveal 
her possession of the divine spark born in her, but 
which we mistakenly term genius. They suggest every- 
thing clean and sweet, with a hint of latent fire ready 
to burst into flame when the provocation is sufficient. 
The only obstacle that can stay her march into the 
hearts of the country is acting technique. The less she 
learns of acting, the greater will be her appeal. What 
she has to offer her audience was born in her and 
cannot be learned or polished in a dramatic school." 

Our Guessing Batting Average 

<fl Of the scores named by the Spectator as pros- 
pective box-office material, none who achieved prom- 
inence has failed to maintain such status after being 
raised to it. Bette Davis, Jean Arthur, Myrna Loy — 


to mention only three to illustrate my point — were 
nominated for prominence by the Spectator when 
their names were virtually unknown by picture patrons. 
And now the reason for my l-told-you-so's: 

If someone sitting in the audience can spot an un- 
known person on the screen and record his conviction 
that such person has everything needed to achieve 
success as a leading film player, why does it take pic- 
ture producers so long to become convinced of the 
same thing? Why complain of a shortage in prospec- 
tive star material when in almost every picture one 
sees there can be spotted at least one youngster who 
has everything it takes? If I can spot a young boy 
and harass a publicity department into finding out the 
name of the boy who stood third to the right of the 
star in a certain scene, why did not the producer of 
the picture spot the boy and do something about it? 
The name, I at last was informed, was Mickey Rooney. 

The answer to the questions is that producers are 
looking for Rosemarys, not for Priscillas — are obsessed 
by the notion that they want actors and actresses to 
bring the stage with them to the screen. The box- 
office today is demonstrating the folly of it. The cure 
is to look for personalities, for Priscillas. 

* * * 

WERE FAR OFF ON THIS ONE 

/IF THE box-office prospects of "Rebecca" I wrote 
^ as follows in my review of the picture (Spectator, 
April I): "A purely psychological drama, it is not for 
the casual film patron in search of light entertainment; 
it is too fine a creation to break box-office records, a 
fact no doubt apparent from the outset to Producer 
Selznick and regarded by him complacently, as 

'Gone With the Wind' is attending to the money 
end of his business." "Rebecca" is proving a sensa- 
tional box-office success wherever shown. At home it 
established a new record for an opening week at the 
Four Star; in New York it ran five weeks at the 

Music Hall; in Cleveland it gave a theatre its first 

hold-over in six years; in Chicago it followed the sec- 
ond week of "Young Tom Edison" into United Artists 
Theatre, "Edison" having done $7,100, and "Rebec- 
ca" did $23,000. (Figures by Variety.) Box-Office 
Digest says it is one of the biggest grossing picture^ 
United Artists has had in twenty years. 

* * * 

SCREEN TALENT AND SHAVING CREAM 

HEN the passage of the Neely Bill ends block 
booking, there is going to be a revolution in pro- 
duction methods which will jar the whole film world 
of Hollywood. For one thing, only a small fraction of 
the talent contracts now in existence will be renewed. 
With their market being made uncertain by the sale 
of each picture after completion and on its own merits, 
instead of by contract before it is made, a practice 
the Neely Bill will outlaw, producers will not find it 
profitable to carry the present heavy load of financial 
obligation under which the contract system puts them. 
Players, writers, directors then will become custodians 



MAY 1, 1940 


PAGE THREE 


of their own careers; no longer will their welfare be 
nourished by producers who must build up the names 
they have on contracts. 

Under the new order of things the player, writer or 
director who will get the most work and earn the most 
money will be the one who most readily comes to pro- 
ducer minds, just as the shaving cream you buy is the 
one which most readily comes to your mind when you 
want some. Fundamentally, the sale of talent differs 
in no way from the sale of shaving cream. Neither can 
get anywhere without advertising, without being kept 
in the minds of its prospective customers. 

We Give Fatherly Advice 

€| In asking for advertising patronage for its Four- 
teenth Birthday Number, which will be the issue fol- 
lowing this one, the Spectator is told by many of its 
talented friends that if they advertised in it they 
would be hounded by a dozen other film publications. 
Of course, an obvious answer to that would be to tell 
each of the hounders to come around when it was 
celebrating its fourteenth birthday, that you always 
patronize Fourteenth Birthday Numbers. But the in- 
spiration which prompted this discussion has more 
general application, was not intended as affecting 
only the Spectator. 

Picture people should advertise if they expect to 
continue to sell their wares. Each one of them knows 
that over the years others with as much talent as he or 
she possesses have faded into oblivion because they 
were not talked about, because they did nothing to 
keep their names in the minds of the people who 
could employ them. Each person earning good money 
now should set aside a sum of money to be expended 
during the year in advertising in papers he feels would 
give him value for the money spent; each paper on 
the list should be notified that at a specified time it 
would get its share of the advertising budget, no 
more, no less, provided it did not make a nuisance of 
itself by asking that the time be advanced or its share 
of the budget be increased. 

But of course this highly commendable system can- 
not be inaugurated in time to benefit the Spectator's 
Birthday Number. That should be a special dispensa- 
tion to reward it for the fatherly advice it offers 
above. 

* * * 

ONE BOOK YOU REALLY MUST HAVE 
AfO LIBRARY in the office or home of anyone con- 
' nected with the motion picture industry can be 
considered complete unless it contains the Film Daily 
Year Book. The twenty-second annual volume, I 125 
pages in handsome white and gold binding, is now 
available. It is an extraordinary accomplishment in 
the way of compiling, presenting and indexing data 
on pictures and their people. Who wrote the story 
for th is or that picture? Who played in it? What 
other pictures have the players to their individual 
credits? What pictures were produced in 1923? I 
could go on and on, listing thousands of guestions 


the valuable volume answers. In compiling and pub- 
lishing it, Jack Alicoate, whose Film Daily since 1919 
has been a reliable record of all the newsworthy activ- 
ities of the film industry, gives the industry a volume 
of inestimable value to it. As a completed work it 
reflects the highest credit on its staff of compilers 
who worked under the guidance of its able editor, 
Chester Bahn. In case I have persuaded you that you 
must complete your library by finding shelf room for 
this indispensible volume, you can write to this ad- 
dress: Film Daily, 1501 Broadway, New York. 

* * * 

MENTAL MEANDERINGS 

HEN I look into a drawer filled with socks knitted 
for me by Mrs. Spectator, I think how selfish it is 
for me to have so many when Mahatma Gandhi ap- 
parently hasn't any. . . . Along our dirt road we put 
out receptacles filled with exhausted cans which a 
truck comes along and scoops up. This is can day; 
our box is on the parking strip. Lassie, the fat old 
dog who brought me a pudding dish and a gopher 
trap, is busy taking cans from the box and spreading 
them around it. Probably looking for something worth 
presenting to someone. From where I am sitting I can 
see her around the end of the hedge, but she obvi : 
ously is having such a fine time I lack the heart to dis- 
turb her. ... I am not so contented. I envy Lassie. 
The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are bloom- 
ing, and here I sit, rebelliously trying to reach the bot- 
tom of the column while three flats of young flower 
plants are awaiting transfer to beds, the newly seeded 
side-lawn needs sprinkling, the Morning Glories need 
thinning, the Dahlia bulbs should be sorted, and — but 
what's the use? Ho, hum! Let's get on with it. . . . 
Somewhere southwest of us a hen has just laid an 
egg; I can tell by the cackle. Sounds carry a long 
distance in our guiet Valley. Somewhere northeast 
of us lives a man with the loudest sneeze in the world, 
one he leads up to with a fusillade of minor hi-hi-ho- 
hoes, ending in a grand explosion which prompts me 
to study the sky in his direction in expectation of see- 
ing the top of his head soaring upward. . . . Holly- 
wood Boulevard marguee: "I Take This Woman — 

Dust Be My Destiny." . . . But perhaps someone will 
give her a duster as a wedding present. . . . Writing 
out of doors involves both mental and physical exer- 
tion. One has to think and also to shift his chair to 
keep in the shade as it creeps across the lawn. Just 
shifted into the shade of a pomegranate tree. The 
shade is nice, but pomegranates are annoyances, just 
globular masses of seeds coated with flavor you can- 
not taste unless you concentrate mentally on it 

Do you know what that longer than usual row of dots 
signifies? A nap. It is hot and the shade edged me 
near enough a garden swing to permit me to edge 
into it without exertion; my purpose was to think up 
what to write next. But I went to sleep and would 
have been asleep yet if my spaniel had not found me 
and jumped up beside me. You know how stupid a 
sound nap leaves you? Well 



PAGE FOUR 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


Wkai JLate OneJ iook iike 


Edmund Goulding 
Scores In This One 

'TIL WE MEET AGAIN, Warner Brothers 

Executive producer Hal B. Wallis 

Associate producer David Lewis 

Director . .... Edmund Goulding 

Screen play Warren Duff 

From an original story by Robert Lord 

Director of photography Tony Gaudio, ASC 
Art director Robert Haas 

Film editor Ralph Dawson 

Sound E. A. Brown 

Special effects by Byron Haskin, ASC 

Gowns by Orry-Kelly 

Orchestral arrangements by Ray Heindorf 

Musical director Leo F. Forbstein 

Cast: Merle Oberon, George Brent, Pat O'Brien, 
Geraldine Fitzgerald, Binnie Barnes, Frank 
McHugh, Eric Blore, Henry O'Neill, George 
Reeves, Frank Wilcox, Doris Lloyd, Marjorie 
Gateson, Regis Toomey, William Halligan, 
Victor Kilian, Wade Boteler. Running time, 
100 minutes. 

S UPERB entertainment; perfection in 
every detail. In essence a sordid story 
of a girl, condemned to death by a heart 
ailment, sharing a romance with a man 
condemned to death for murder, it 
comes to us as one of the most beauti- 
ful love stories the screen ever told, a 
tender, touching, sympathetic demon- 
stration of the screen’s story - telling 
power. When the ingredients, as such, 
have so little to recommend them as 
popular entertainment, it is the tech- 
nique displayed in their compounding 
which we must praise for the brilliant 
results achieved. This review, I warn 
you, is to be but a hymn of praise, for 
never in the fourteen years of picture 
reviewing is there another picture I can 
recall as being less provocative of ad- 
verse criticism. 

Hal Wallis, the truly great producer 
who heads the Warner production 
forces, was wise in his choice of those 
who served under him in putting One 
Way Passage into new clothes and pre- 
senting it as ’Til We Meet Again. The 
strongly dramatic original story was 
put by Warren Duff into one of the 
most brilliantly written screen plays we 
have had in years, one as noted for 
what it does not say as for what it says. 
For instance, we are not told whom the 
man in the romance murdered or why 
he murdered him; we are not told who 
the girl is, what her background is, 
where her home is. We see the two in 
Hong Kong meet as strangers; they are 
fellow passengers on a ship, and we ac- 
company them to a San Francisco dock, 
and that is the last we see of them. We 
know he goes to the gallows, that she 
has but a short time to live. 

Expert Cast Assembled 
<1 It takes understanding casting and 
discerning direction to transform such 
drab material into brilliant entertain- 


ment. From the list of players which 
Associate Producer David Lewis sub- 
mitted to his chief and to the director, 
Wallis and Edmund Goulding made 
wise selections. Certainly ideal casting 
in the leading feminine role was the 
engaging and talented Merle Oberon. 
Her mere presence on the screen always 
has pleased me; here she gives a perform- 
ace which raises her to the heights as a 
great actress. And equally ideal casting 
in the role opposite her was the choice 
of George Brent. This always depend- 
able actor gives a sincere, impressive 
performance which gets its dramatic 
power from its lack of display of effort 
to achieve it. 

On a par with the characterizations 
of the two stars were those of the sup- 
porting players, chief of whom are Pat 
O’Brien, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Binnie 
Barnes, Frank McHugh, Eric Blore. 
They weave an acting pattern with no 
weak spot in it. I was glad to see Mc- 
Hugh in a part which has its serious 
moments. He is an actor whose talents 
have been wasted in a series of half-wit 
parts. There are many others who help 
in telling the story, among them Henry 
O’Neill, always the capable artist; the 
talented Doris Lloyd whom we do not 
see often enough; the gracious Mar- 
jorie Gateson; and we get a brief 
glimpse of the pleasing personality of 
Regis Toomey, another neglected play- 
er. 

Goulding's Inspired Direction 

<| Even though the tools be perfect it 
takes craftsmanship to achieve perfec- 
tion with them. Edmund Goulding was 
given everything to work with in the 
way of screen play, cast and produc- 
tion; they were the tools which made 
perfection possible, but it was his skill 
as a director which made it a fact. It 
is one of the most brilliantly directed 
pictures of all time. The ship on which 
the story is told has a large passenger 
list on its eastward voyage across the 
Pacific. With masterly regard for back- 
ground action, Goulding keeps the ship 
alive, never lets us forget its busyness; 
when a scene is shot in a cabin and a 
door leading to the deck is opened, we 
see strolling passengers, ship’s officers, 
cabin stewards carrying trays, and oth- 
er routines of life aboard ship. 

But it is the naturalness developed 
in the characterizations which is the 
director’s greatest achievement, the one 
most responsible for the appeal of the 
picture. There is no acting in it, no 
striving for effect — just a group of peo- 
ple living a chapter in their lives, un- 
aware of our prying eyes and listening 
ears. Duff’s good writing provides for 
our picking them up in their stride, the 
story opening abruptly and without 
any explanatory preamble. Just as 


abruptly it ends, and right up to the 
last few hundred feet of film you still 
are wondering how it will end, still 
hoping the murderer will escape, marry 
the girl and live happily ever after. But 
when the different end comes you agree 
it is the only logical one; you agree also 
that you have seen a really great picture. 

Anatole Litvak Sits In 

CJ During the shooting Director Gould- 
ing became ill and Anatole Litvak took 
command during Goulding's absence. 
The greatest tribute which can be paid 
to Litvak’s contribution to the picture 
is the absence of evidence of it. The 
mood established by Goulding is sus- 
tained throughout and without suggest- 
ing the influence of another director’s 
presence. 

The physical attributes of the pro- 
duction match the worthiness of the 
spiritual and human elements. The art 
direction of Robert Haas provided Tony 
Gaudio with opportunities to gather 
with his camera many shots of pictorial 
value to add to the fine portraiture 
which always distinguishes his photog- 
raphy. A goodly proportion of the 
visual attractiveness of the picture can 
be credited to the gowns designed by 
Orry-Kelly. Film editing by Ralph 
Dawson, special effects by Byron Has- 
kin, and sound recording by E. A. 
Brown are other assets of the produc- 
tion. 

A demonstration of talkie technique 
at the peak of its perfection. Above the 
appreciation of children but a picture 
for everyone else. Dialogue direction 
notable. Perhaps too fine for small- 
town audiences, but certainly a joy to 
all others. A sure cure for box-office 
worries. 

Nice Little Dance 
And Musical Film 

TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY, MGM 
Producer Jack Cummings 

Director S. Sylvan Simon 

Screen play Joseph Fields, Jerome Chodorov 
Based on a story by Edmund Goulding 

Musical presentation Merrill Pye 

Musical director . Georgie Stoll 

Musical arrangements Walter Ruick 

Dance directors: Bobby Connolly, Eddie Lar- 
kin. 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Wardrobe by Dolly Tree 

Director of photography George Folsey, ASC 

Film editor Blanche Sewell 

Cast: Lana Turner, Joan Blondell, George 

Murphy, Kent Taylor, Richard Lane, Wallace 
Ford, Otto Hahn, Lloyd Corrigan, Don Wilson, 
Charles Wagonheim. Running time, 70 min- 
utes. 

MEMORY of Broadway Melody 
taken out of yesterday, dolled up 
with attire of today, made into a 1 it - 



MAY 1 , 1940 


PAGE FIVE 


tie picture which will please you in a 
mild sort of way, but will not excite 
you. Come to think of it, the fact that 
it is not as big and glittering as its 
grandmother is perhaps its chief rec- 
ommendation. It is a dance-musical 
film in capsule form, which makes it 
easy to take. An unusual feature of it 
is the abruptness of its ending. It stops 
when you think it is going good, and 
it takes you a moment to realize that, 
after all, there is nothing more to be 
said that you cannot imagine to please 
yourself. 

What the story lacks in originality 
is compensated for by the high degree 
of entertainment value put into it by 
the direction of Sylvan Simon. He keeps 
it moving, gets good performances from 
his players without stressing points, 
and by presenting them as a batch of 
ordinary humans for whom he enlists 
our interest and maintains it through- 
out. The beautiful, but by no means 
dumb, Lana Turner, the capable Joan 
Blondell, and the graceful and gracious 
George Murphy head the abbreviated 
cast, Kent Taylor, Richard Lane and 
Wallace Ford being the only others who 
figure prominently in the story. 

Is Visually Attractive 

<J A dance sequence in which Lana and 
Murphy hold the center of the stage, is 
the visual masterpiece of the produc- 
tion, the setting being another of Cedric 
Gibbons's pictorial triumphs. Ten are 
listed as those responsible for the mu- 
sical content of the picture, and each 
is to be commended for his contribution 
to the agreeableness of the picture. And 
Jack Cummings, producer, can take a 
bow for his satisfactory guidance of the 
whole from script to screen. 

The playboy indiscretions of the 
character played by Kent Taylor may 
be challenged on the score of their be- 
ing somewhat too crude when the ob- 
ject of his latest fancy is such a gentle, 
innocent and appealing girl as young 
Tana T urner, but no other charge can 
be brought against the picture for lack 
of good taste. It should give satisfac- 
tion to both young and old. 


E yes Examined AND Glasses Fitted 


DEVER D. GRAY, OPT. D. 

...OPTOMETRIST... 


1725 North Highland Avenue 
Hollywood, California 
HEmpstead 8438 


Buck Benny's Best 
Box-Office Booster 

BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN, Paramount 
Producer-director Mark Sandrich 

Screen play William Morrow. Edmund Beloin 
Based on an adaptation by Zion Myers 

Of a story by Arthur Stringer 

Musical direction — for production: Charles 

Henderson. 

Incidental music Victor Young 

Songs: Lyrics by Frank Loesser; music by 

Jimmy McHugh. 

Indian adagio and acrobatic routines by: 

Merriel Abbott Dancers. 

Other dance numbers staged by LeRoy Prinz 
Director of photography Charles Lang, ASC 
Art directors Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson 
Editor LeRoy Stone 

Second unit director Ben Holmes 

Cast: Jack Benny, Ellen Drew, Eddie Ander- 
son, Andy Devine, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, 
Virginia Dale, Lillian Cornell, Theresa Harris, 
Kay Linaker, Ward Bond, Morris Ankrum, 
Charles Lane, James Burke. Running time, 
82 minutes. 

THE best Jack Benny picture we Pave 
I had. Mark Sandrich, a director with 
a long series of successful pictures to his 
credit, makes his bow as a producer- 
director with Buck Benny Rides Again. 
and in both capacities acquits himself 
brilliantly. He has given us much which 
is beautiful to look at, much which is 
entertaining to listen to, much which is 
amusing to laugh at, and that strikes 
me as being a complete prescription for 
a satisfactory screen offering. Nature 
and Art Directors Hans Dreier and Ro- 
land Anderson provided backgrounds of 
great pictorial beauty against which the 
lively and amusing story is told briskly 
under Sandrich’s direction. Mark’s 
sense of humor is reflected in every se- 
quence. Charles Lang’s photography is 
another big asset: LeRoy Stone’s expert 
film editing another. 

An unusual feature of the production 
is the fact that Jack Benny, Rochester, 
Andy Devine, Phil Harris and Dennis 
Day play themselves, which makes it 
practically a visual presentation of a 
Benny broadcast. And when people 
play themselves the performances must 
be perfect. No one, for instance, can 
argue that someone else can play Benny 
better than Jack can or that his per- 
formance lacks the Benny touch. 

Built Only to Amuse 

€J The screen play by William Morrow 
and Edmund Beloin, based on Zion 
Myers’s adaptation of an Arthur String- 
er story, is built solely to provoke 
laughter. A commendable feature of it 
is the absence of gags dragged in by the 
heels at the expense of the continuity of 
our interest in the story as it progresses. 
It is an exceedingly clever screen play 
which keeps the various characterizations 
nicely balanced. Benny is presented as 
the rather harassed victim of an amus- 
ing chain of circumstances which end 


in a satisfactory manner when he finally 
gets the girl as the picture fades out. 

Eddie Anderson (Rochester) again 
just about steals the show. His per- 
formance is notable for the manner in 
which it reveals his intelligent grasp of 
all its comedy values. And that his feet 
are as nimble as his brain is revealed in 
his dance numbers, in one of them team- 
ed with Theresa Harris, an attractive 
colored girl who scores as an actress, 
singer and dancer. She is so clever in 
all three I would not be surprised to 
learn she also is a good cook. Three 
capable and charming girls are Ellen 
Drew (who shares the romance with 
Benny), Virginia Dale and Lillian Cor- 
nell. Their singing is one of the nice 
features of the picture. Dennis Day 
contributes one song in a manner to 
make you sorry he does not sing an- 
other. And Carmichael, the bear, must 
be included in the list of good per- 
formers. 

This Girl Can Make Good 

CJ Music, of course, is a big feature of 
the production. It is contributed by 
Charles Elenderson and Victor Young, 
and Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh 
(songs) . One of the outstanding song 
numbers is Drums In the Night, sung 
by Lillian Cornell. I wish some pro- 
ducer would give her an opportunity to 
make good this prediction: She can be 
developed into an outstanding screen 
star. If she gets her chance, you will 
see this prediction repeated in a year or 
two under an “I Told You So” head- 
ing. 

Indian adagio and acrobatic dance 
routines by the Merriel Abbott Dancers 
are spectacularly beautiful contributions 
to the production's commendable fea- 
tures. 

For men. women and children; clean, 
gay. colorful. Delightfully entertaining 
throughout. Surefire box-office attrac- 
tion. 


Another Good One 
In A ildare Series 

DR. KILDARE'S STRANGE CASE. MGM 
Director Harold S. Bucquet 

Screen play Harry Ruskin, Willis Goldbeck 
Based on an original story by: Max Brand, 
Willis Goldbeck. 

Musical score David Snell 

Recording director Douglas Shearer 

Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Director of photography John Seitz, ASC 

Film editor Gene Ruggiero 

Cast: Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine 
Day, Shepperd Strudwick, Samuel S. Hinds, 
Emma Dunn, Nat Pendleton, Walter Kings- 
ford, Alma Kruger, John Aldredge, Nell Craig, 
Marie Blake, Charles Waldron, George Les- 
sey, Tom Collins, George H. Reed, Paul Por- 
casi, Horace MacMahon, Frank Orth, Mar- 
garet Seddon, Fay Helm. Running time, 7G 
minutes. 

£ XCELLENT entertainment, distin- 
guished for writing, direction and 
acting. The series is a striking ill ustra- 


PAGE SIX 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


tion of the box-office value of contin- 
uity of interest in the same group of 
characters. Strange Case is my selection 
as the best of the lot so far: you may 
fancy a previous one, but I doubt it. 
Each in the series is a truly human doc- 
ument which entertains while it digni- 
fies the practice of medicine. Through 
all of them runs a sense of humor which 
in no way impedes the forward prog- 
ress of the serious aspects of the stories, 
the dramatic passages and the romantic 
interludes. 

The original story by Max Brand 
and Willis Goldbeck was made into a 
smoothly running screen play by Harry 
Ruskin and Goldbeck. Harold Bucquet 
put into it the same vigor and sparkle, 
understanding and sympathy that have 
distinguished his direction of the whole 
series. David Snell (musical score), 
John Seitz (photography), Gene Rug- 
giero (film editing) also rendered valu- 
able services. 

Nothing Left to Say 

•I The continuation of the series makes 
it difficult to write an original review 
which will do full justice to the merits 
of each of them. Several times already 
I have said about all there is to say 
about the newest one. The understand- 
ing interpretation of his role by Lew 
Ayres: the brilliance of a Lionel Barry- 
more performance: the cleverness and 
appealing beauty of Laraine Day: the 
agreeable presence of Emma Dunn, Sam 
Hinds, Nat Pendleton, Walter Kings- 
ford, Alma Kruger, Marie Blake, Charles 
Waldron and all the rest of them — 
what can one say of them that already 
has not been said several times? 

A newcomer — unless my memory is 
faulty — is Shepperd Strudwick, a pol- 
ished actor with an agreeable person- 
ality. John Eldredge, for a long time 
a favorite of mine, appears in a few se- 
quences and does excellent work in a 
part around which the plot mainly re- 
volves. Lor five years a mental case, he 
is given an insulin shock by daring 
young Kildare without authorization 
of the head of the hospital. It is the 
dramatic high spot of the picture, ably 
built to and having a stirring climax. 

This series too well established to 
need much comment. All of them are 
clean, informative, entertaining. Exhi- 
bitors will find this one another winner. 


If You Enjoy 

Good Southern Home Cooked Food 

Try the 

CANTERBURY COFFEE SHOP 

1746 North Cherokee 
. . . NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC . . . 

Breakfast . . Luncheon . . Dinner 
AT POPULAR PRICES 


Roach Goes Back To 
Beginning of Things 

ONE MILLION B. C.. Hal Roach 

Directors Hal Roach, Hal Roach, Jr. 

Assistant director Barnard Carr 

Original screen play: Mickell Novak, George 

Baker, Joseph Frickert. 

Descriptive narration Grover Jones 

Narrator Conrad Nagel 

Director of photography Norbert Brodine, ASC 
Photographic effects by: Roy Seawright; edit- 
ed by Ray Snyder. 

Art director Charles D. Hall 

Associate art director Nicolai Remisoff 

Set decorator W. L. Stevens 

Sound recorder William Randall 

Wardrobe supervisor Harry Black 

Musical score Werner R. Heymann 

Orchestra conductor Irving Talbot 

Cast: Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon 

Chaney, Jr., Mamo Clark, Nigel De Brulier, 
Mary Gale Fisher, Edgar Edwards. Inez Pa- 
lange. 

AL ROACH better be careful! A 
member of good standing of the 
Motion Picture Producers' Association, 
he actually has produced a motion pic- 
ture. And that is not being done, not 
since the screen learned how to talk. 
Of course, it is possible that Hal dis- 
agrees with all his fellow members and 
remembers when it was pleasant for us 
to lean back in a picture house and 
watch things happening on the screen, 
without our having to listen attentively 
to ceaseless chatter to keep us abreast of 
what was going on. Anyway, what- 
ever the impulse which stirred him, Hal 
has given us the only almost hundred 
per cent true motion picture we have 
had in a decade, one which tells ninety- 
five per cent of its story with the camera. 

And, believe me, 1 ,000,000 B. C. is 
something to look at. Huge prehistoric, 
mammoth beasts and reptiles, an awe- 
inspiring volcanic eruption, a moun- 
tain-toppling earthquake are numbers 
on the pictorial program. The produc- 
er is careful to tell us in the picture’s 
first sequence, through the medium of 
Conrad Nagel as a scientist, that what 
we are about to see is Conrad’s own in- 
terpretation of ancient hieroglyphics 
found scratched on the wads of a cave. 

Has Social Significance 

4J As a demonstration of technical cine- 
matic possibilities, the production is 
astonishing. Interwoven with its phy- 
sical aspects is a coherent story of social 
significance in that it shows one tribe 
of uncouth savages coming under the 
influence of another tribe which dis- 
plays a consciousness of social graces, 
the chief manifestation being its habit 
of eating like human beings instead of 
like beasts. The more savage tribe also 
learns something from the other in the 
way of politeness in the treatment of 
women. 

The haggard roughness of Lire Val- 
ley, Nevada, serves as a background for 


the action and emphasizes visually the 
aptness of the picture's title. The direc- 
tion, too, matches both story and set- 
ting, the movement of characters, their 
mannerisms and methods of communi- 
cation giving an air of authenticity to 
the whole. It was a brave undertaking 
on the part of Producer Roach to give 
us something so radically different from 
what we are used to, but he comes 
through with flying colors, being as- 
sisted in directing by his son, Hal, Jr., 
and having the services of a staff of 
most capable technicians. Scan the list 
of credits given above and put a good 
mark opposite each name. And for a 
masterly screen play, underscore the 
names of Mickell Novak, George Baker 
and Joseph Lrickert. 

Possibly a little strong for children, 
but one no others should miss. Artis- 
tically a plea for more purely visual film 
entertainment . and as such a valuable 
lesson for all students of the screen. Of 
educational interest in that it records 
one theory of the birth of civilization. 
No exhibitor need apologize for having 
booked it even though it lacks star 
names. 


Drab, Depressing 
Blit Is IV ?// Done 

JOHNNY APOLLO, Twentieth Century-Fox 

Director Henry Hathaway 

Associate producer Harry Joe Brown 

Screen play Philip Dunne, Rowland Brown 
Original story Samuel G. Engel, Hal Long 
Music and lyrics: Lionel Newman, Frank 

Loesser, Mack Gordon. 

Director of photography Arthur Miller, ASC 
Art directors Richard Day, Wiard B. Ihnen 
Set decorator Thomas Little 

Film editor Robert Bischoff 

Musical director Cyril J. Mockridge 

Cast: Tyrone Power, Dorothy Lamour, Ed- 

ward Arnold, Lloyd Nolan, Charley Grape- 
win, Lionel Atwill, Marc Lawrence, Jonathan 
Hale, Harry Rosenthal, Russell Hicks, Fuzzy 
Knight, Charles Lane, Selmar Jackson, Charles 
Trowbridge, John Hamilton, William Pawley, 
Eric Wilton, Gary Breckner, Harry Tyler, 
George Irving, Eddie Marr, Anthony Caruso, 
Stanley Andrews, Wally Albright. Running 
time, 90 minutes. 

LL right for those who can enjoy 
good performances purely as such, 
who can appreciate good direction for 
its own sake, and the manner in which 
the story is told without caring what it 
tells. Others who patronize pictures to 
see and hear stories being told — and 
they constitute the big majority of those 
whose money keeps the film industry in 
funds — will find Johnny Apollo a 
rather sordid bit of screen entertain- 
ment. Edward Arnold, millionaire, 
plays the father of Tyrone Power, col- 
legian and athlete when we first see 
him. As the story opens, Arnold is in- 
dicted for embezzlement, tried, sent to 
the penitentiary: Power, discouraged by 




MAY 1, 1940 


PAGE SEVEN 


failure to land a job because of his 
father's reputation, changes his name to 
Johnny Apollo, becomes a crook; the 
law catches up with him and he, too. 
lands in the penitentiary. 

Evil is all right as a screen story ele- 
ment, but only if it points a moral. If 
this one does that, it escaped me. I 
will confess the story failed to hold my 
close interest and I may have missed 
any uplifting message if it contained 
one. However, it is the story’s mission 
to create and hold audience interest, and 
as far as I was concerned, this one failed 
to do so, consequently I have no apolo- 
gies to make for my lack of close at- 
tention. 

Stops to Take Songs Aboard 

<]| Crook dramas depend chiefly for their 
entertainment quality on the briskness 
of their forward movement, on a rapid 
succession of vigorous scenes. This story 
stops three times to provide Dorothy 
Lamour with opportunities to sing. 
She sings well, but should have done it 
in some other picture. Also she acts her 
part in a convincing manner. The oth- 
ers in the cast also maintain a high act- 
ing standard. Edward Arnold is par- 
ticularly impressive, giving us one of 
the most thoughtful and compelling 
performances of his screen career. Ty 
Power also gives excellent account of 
himself, as do Lloyd Nolan and Char- 
ley Grapewin. Many others appear in 
the film in smaller parts and each of 
them proves capable. 

The picture is produced on a com- 
prehensive and visually impressive scale. 
Henry Hathaway’s direction is perfect, 
realizing fully all the dramatic quali- 
ties in the screen play by Philip Dunne 
and Rowland Brown. The story is an 
original by Samuel Engel and Hal Long. 
While you may quarrel with it as I do 
because of its drabness, you will find no 
fault with the manner in which it is 
presented. Art direction, photography, 
film editing and all other technical at- 
tributes were in thoroughly competent 
hands. 

Undiluted crime is not fare for chil- 
dren. even though no fault can be found 
with the story on the score of its lack 
of good taste in the telling. Star names 
and imposing production should give it 
box-office value and possibly only more 
critical audiences will find fault with it. 

Do You Like — 

GOOD FOOD— GOOD BEDS— AND 
ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME? 

Then Stop at the — 

SANTA MARIA INN 

Santa Maria, Calif. 

174 miles from Los Angeles — 271 miles 
from San Francisco — On Highway 101 


Just A Baby, But 
He Steals the Show 

FORTY LITTLE MOTHERS, MGM 
Director Busby Berkeley 

Producer Harry Rapf 

Screen play Dorothy Yost, Ernest Pagano 
Art director Cedric Gibbons 

Associate art director Daniel B. Cathcart 

Wardrobe Dolly Tree 

Director of photography Charles Lawton, ASC 
Film editor Ben Lewis 

Lyrics Charles Tobias 

Music Nat Simon 

Musical direction Georgie Stoll 

Musical arrangements Roger Edens 

Orchestration George Bassman, Wally Heglin 
Cast: Eddie Cantor, Judith Anderson, Rita 

Johnson, Bonita Granville, Ralph Morgan, Di- 
ana Lewis, Nydia Westman, Margaret Early, 
Martha O'Driscoll, Charlotte Munier, Louise 
Seidel. Baby Quintanilla. Runnting time, 87 
minutes. 

O UR nomination for the Academy 
Award for the best performance by 
an actor during 1940: Baby Quintan- 
illa. The Mickey Rooneys, Spencer 
Tracys, Paul Munis might just as well 
cease dreaming, even though there is so 
much of the year still to run. The 
whole secret of screen acting is revealed 
in the performance of this eight-months- 
old youngster: feeling the part and let- 
ting the camera do the work. It must 
have required persistence and diligence 
to catch all the fleeting expressions of 
the fascinating baby which are scatter- 
ed through the length of film, each 
one adding story value to the scene in 
which it appears. The baby shots get 
their value from the impression they 
give you that Quintanilla, when each 
was made, was thinking only of the 
business in hand. 

Forty Little Mothers is precisely the 
kind of picture the world needs now, 
one as far away in mood from the de- 
pressing international occurrences as it 
is possible to get. It is a healthy, clean, 
joyous picture, with the performance 
by the baby to attone for whatever 
weaknesses it reveals. Eddie Cantor, a 
bachelor looking for a job, finds him- 
self in possession of the baby by virtue 
of circumstances over which he has no 
control, and thereafter plays the foster- 
father role with feeling and sympathy 
which make his performance perhaps 
the most ingratiating of his career. 

Worth Price of Admission 

<fl Cantor lands a job as professor in a 
fashionable girl’s school into which he 
smuggles the baby. The animosity with 
which he is greeted by the students and 
their efforts to drive him from the 
school are somewhat overdone and 
make the story drag. But when the 
girls discover the baby, things buck up, 
and when you leave the theatre you 
will be content that you have had your 
full money’s worth. 

While none of the other perform- 
ances in any way dims the luster of the 


baby's, no fault can be tout d with 
them on the score of lack ot me::. The 
more prominent roles are n. the Cipable 
hands of Judith Anderson, .Rita John- 
son, Bonita Granville, Ralph Morgan, 
Diana Lewis and Nydia Westman. 
Harry Rapf provided a handsome pro- 
duction for the picture, Cedric Gib- 
bons continues his habit of designing 
sets of great artistic value, and Charles 
Lawton’s camera does full justice to 
their photographic possibilities. Dor- 
othy Yost and Ernest Pagano wrote 
the screen play, which is based on a 
story by Jean Guitton. To Busby 
Berkeley goes unstinted praise for the 
sympathetic direction which makes the 
picture so appealing. 

One you cannot afford to miss. And 
by all means take the children. It pre- 
sents the most remarkable baby seen 
on the screen in years. If exhibitors get 
behind it they should find it a profit- 
able attraction. They will feel that 
Harry Rapf should get an Academy 
Award for discovering Baby Quintan- 
illa. 

Hardly Big Enough 
For Its Big Star 

IRENE, RKO Release 

Producer-director Herbert Wilcox 

Screen play Alice Duer Miller 

From the musical comedy "Irene" 

Book by James H. Montgomery 

Music and lyrics by: Harry Tierney, Joseph 

McCarthy. 

Director of photography Russell Metty, ASC 
Art director L. P. Williams 

Gowns Edward Stevenson 

Recorder Richard Van Hessen 

Special effects Vernon L. Walker, ASC 

Assistant directors Syd Fogel, Lloyd Richards 
Musical director Anthony Collins 

Orchestra arrangements: Anthony Collins, 

Gene Rose. 

Cast: Anna Neagle, Ray Milland, Roland 

Young, Alan Marshal, May Robson, Billie 
Burke, Arthur Treacher, Marsha Hunt, Isabel 
Jewell, Doris Nolan, Stuart Robertson, Ethel 
Griffies, Tom Kelly, Juliette Compton, Roxanne 
Barkley. Running time, 93 minutes. 

ICE little musical romance in which 

Anna Neagle fully realizes all the 
possibilities of the leading role. Her 
hold on American picture patrons was 
established by her characterizations of 
Queen Victoria and Edith Cavell. In 
pictures sketching the careers of those 
notable women, the English girl proved 
herself a really brilliant actress, one to 
be taken seriously and to be expected 
to rise to even greater acting heights. 
She was unusual, in that while still 
young and beautiful she impressed the 
world by her characterization, in the 
case of the British queen, of a woman 
nearing her eighties. One can sympa- 
thize with the urge of youth to play 
youth, but if such an urge stirred Miss 
Neagle, I feel it should have been ex- 
pressed in a vehicle which made greater 



PAGE EIGHT 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


a.-.d mci s 2 . iOus demands upon her as 
. aramatic actress. 

7 here is nothing lacking in Anna 
Neagle's Irene performance, but her part 
is one of such definite limits it could 
have been played satisfactorily by any 
one of a score of girls who already had 
been identified with successful roman- 
tic - singing - dancing productions. In 
other words, Miss Neagle stepped out 
of a field in which few excelled as she 
had done, and entered one in which 
many already had proved themselves 
adequate. 

Takes Liberties with Music 

<J The Irene story is too frail to sup- 
port the weight of its length. When 
the picture nears its already too long 
delayed ending, it checks its forward 
progress to permit its star to do a long 
solo dance to express emotions which 
could have been expressed in a line of 
dialogue or a fleeting glance. Another 
sequence which mars the mood of the 
production is that in which a succession 
of singing groups distorts the lilting 
beauty of the music of Alice Blue Gown , 
a song too well established to make it 
advisable to subject it to such indignity. 

The picture is given a scenically im- 
pressive production, one of beauty and 
sweep, admirably designed by L. P. 
Williams and artistically photographed 
by Russell Metty and Vernon Walker. 
A factor in its visual appeal are the 
scores of gowns designed by Edward 
Stevenson. Screen play by Alice Duer 
Miller is commendable except in its pro- 
vision for intimate conversations on 
dance floors, scenes which lose their in- 
timacy, consequently their story value, 
by delivery of the speeches in tones loud 
enough to be heard by all the dancers. 
In all other respects Herbert Wilcox’s 
direction is competent. Performances 
throughout are excellent. Ray Milland 
displays more sympathetic understand- 
ing of his role than hitherto has char- 
acterized his work. I liked him in his 
first picture, gave him his first favorable 
mention, but since then he has impress- 
ed me as being a superficial player. Ro- 
land Young, Alan Marshal, May Rob- 
son, Billie Burke, and Marsha Hunt are 
others to be credited with valuable con- 
tributions to Irene. I wish some pro- 
ducer would give Marsha a chance to 
show what she can do. 

Rather conventional wake-over of an 
established favorite; characterized by 
good taste and visual attractiveness. Will 
not break box-office records, but exhibi- 
tors should find its showing profitable. 

★ Romance with a capital “R” will 
glow from the stages of America if 
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier get 
together for a projected production of 
Romeo and Juliet, which production 
would tour the states. However, don’t 
hold your breath. The plans of mice 
and men — . 


Dead Men Multiply 
In Mystery Yarn 

THE SAINT TAKES OVER, RKO 
Producer Howard Benedict 

Executive producer Lee Marcus 

Director Jack Hively 

Screen play Lynn Root, Frank Fenton 

Musical director Roy Webb 

Director of photography. Frank Redman, ASC 
Gowns Renie 

Recorder Earl A. Wolcott 

Editor Desmond Marquette 

Cast: George Sanders, Wendy Barrie, Jona- 
than Hale, Paul Guilfoyle, Morgan Conway, 
Robert Emmett Keane, Cyrus W. Kendall, 
James Burke, Robert Middlemass, Roland 
Drew, Nella Walker, Pierre Watkin. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 

O UR clever and suave friend The Saint 
sleuths again here and in a picture as 
smooth in story movement and general 
acting as any of the series. The piece 
takes its share of what might be termed 
mystery story license, but it is all in- 
terest-sustaining and the incidents seem 
plausible enough at the time. Emphasis 
is on humor and the comedy is adroitly 
handled and efficacious. We are beguil- 
ed into taking nothing seriously. Car- 
casses accumulate throughout the story, 
but we are not the least dismayed. In 
fact, when one man, secreted away from 
his home for safe keeping, is shot 
through a basement window, we laugh 
like all get out, and we further chuckle 
at his stupid, staring expression when 
being transported homeward in a lim- 
ousine. If you want to see some of the 
barbarian in you, here is your chance. 
It is extraordinary what viewpoints 
and reactions drama can inveigle us into. 

Part of the humor arises out of the 
circumstance that Jonathan Hale, again 
Inspector Lernack, now deprived of his 
badge because of a gangland frame-up, 
manages to be found in the company of 
each of the “stiffs” when they are dis- 
covered by The Saint, who takes full 
advantage of the incriminating circum- 
stance to prod the inspector. There is 
a good quota of amusing lines in the 
screen play by Lynn Root and Lrank 
Lenton, and especially so are those al- 
lotted to Paul Guilfoyle, seen as a dim- 
witted gangster, coerced into aligning 
himself with the law. Guilfoyle is very 
entertaining in the part. He should do 
comedy more often. 

Gone the Lackluster 

<1 George Sanders is seen to better ad- 
vantage here than in any performance 
of his I have seen for some time, having 
divested his work of a lackluster qual- 
ity which has characterized it on occa- 
sion in the past. He is at once subtle 
and animate, points his comedy lines 
well. Wendy Barrie is very agreeable 
optically and plays with charm, though 
it is a little hard to believe that such a 
charming one could be guilty of such 


extensive murder — or is this letting a 
cat out of the bag? Hardly, I think, 
since she becomes suspect in an early 
episode. 

Jonathan Hale, as intimated, is deft 
at reacting to the slings and arrows of 
The Saint’s outrageous wit, fully real- 
izing the comedy possibilities of his 
role. The adroit handling alluded to 
was done by Director Jack Hively. The 
film reflects good production supervi- 
sion, the newly instated Howard Bene- 
dict being production chief, with Lee 
Marcus as executive producer. Sets are 
attractive or atmospheric, photography 
by Lrank Redman is an attribute, and 
editing by Desmond Marquette is adept. 
Musical background by Roy Webb is 
suitably gittery, too. 

Another of the Saint series, this one 
boasts a good deal of successful humor 
and considerable finesse in the playing 
and direction. The yarn holds the in- 
terest. Not for very young children, 
because of the accumulation of murders, 
despite that the deceased are crooks and 
a whimsical view is taken of their pass- 
ing. 

Has Prize Fight , 

Song and Dance 

GRANDPA GOES TO TOWN, Republic 
Associate producer-director Gus Meins 

Original screen play Jack Townley 

Photographer Reggie Lanning 

Film editor Lester Orlebeck 

Art director John Victor Mackay 

Musical director Cy Feuer 

Wardrobe Adele Palmer 

Cast: James Gleason, Lucile Gleason, Rus- 
sell Gleason, Harry Davenport, Lois Ranson, 
Tommy Ryan, Maxie Rosenbloom, Ledda Go- 
doy, Noah Beery, Douglas Meins, Garry 
Owen, Ray Turner, Lee "Lasses" White, Wal- 
ter Miller, Emmett Lynn, Joe Caits, Arturo 
Godoy. Running time, 65 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
V1DENTLY there is an established 
market for these Higgins Lamily of- 
ferings, and in as much as enough peo- 
ple are being entertained to make the 
films profitable, the Republic people 
probably will not consider critical re- 
action very relevant. And I am not 
too sure that it is, except for those read- 
ers whose response is likely to concur 
with that of the critic’s, and these per- 
sons probably know already what the 
Higgins series is like. It is possible, 
though, that the appeal of the series 
could be widened and that even further 
elation could be evoked from those who 
have laid down their quarters for Hig- 
gins diversion and come back for more. 

The present picture. Grandpa Goes 
to Town, is a better film than the last 
one I saw of the series. It has been given 
considerable production elaboration, in- 
cluding several turns of song and 
dance and a demonstration fistic bout 



MAY 1, 1940 


PAGE NINE 


between the South American champion, 
Arturo Godoy, and our own Maxie 
Rosenbloom. Seems to me, though, as 
I observed before, there is something 
incongruous in the handling of the 
story material, in that emphasis is so 
preponderantly on farcical predicaments 
and gags, and so little endeavor is made 
to develop the human interest element 
one expects in a family picture. No 
discernible affection or sympathy passes 
among the Higgins clan; they take one 
another pretty much for granted. The 
mother is an inordinately dumb wo- 
man. the father spends much of his 
time in a slow burn. Their raison 
de'etre seems to be to get into involve- 
ments. 

Anything Can Happen 

Cl Be oreoared to see a picture in which 
plausibility is valued at about two figs. 
Predicaments and gags will be your 
chief reward. Personally I found the 
opening portion, especially the incident 
in which the inordinately dumb mother 
buys a hotel without even consulting 
her husband, a little too far-fetched to 
swallow. The hotel is a dilapidated 
thing in a western “ghost town," but 
the elder son overhears two prospectors 
jubilantly proclaiming the discovery of 
gold — he could not possibly have per- 
ceived they were actors performing be- 
fore a camera — and with equal jubi- 
lance spreads the news, with the result 
that the town has a boom. Gangsters 
feature and there are sundry complica- 
tions. 

The middle portion of the picture is 
simpler of design and affords pretty 
good entertainment, what with the vo- 
cal, terpsichorean, and fistic present- 
ments. Godoy and his attractive wife 
also have some lines in the picture. The 
somewhat rearranged features of the 
former take the cinema lights in such a 
way as to make him passable for the 
ghost in Hamlet. And speaking of 
countenances, Rosenbloom with a pie 
in the puss is another sight extraor- 
dinary. Lois Ranson stands out in the 
cast as an unusually versatile and tal- 
ented miss, being accomplished at both 
singing and dancing, as well as being 
competent in her part. Douglas Meins 
handles his singing spots agreeably. 
The Gleasons are efficient, and as much 
can be said for Harry Davenport and 
Tommy Ryan. It was good to see 
Noah Beery again, whose rugged fea- 
tures are strongly expressive cinematic- 
ally. Direction is adequate, the mount- 
ing satisfactory. 

Higgins family fans will doubtless 
find this much to their liking, as it is 
comparatively one of the better films 
of the series. Exacting patrons, how- 
ever, will probably balk at the flagrant 
implausibilities of the story. The mid- 
dle portion of the film is fairly enter- 
taining, affording song and dance num- 


bers and a prize fight. Presence in the 
story of Arturo Godoy may cut ice with 
some patrons. Suitable for the children. 

Ambitious Orphan 
Leads Hard Life 

TOMBOY, Monogram 

Producer Scott R. Dunlap 

Director Robert McGowan 

Original story and screen play: Marion Orth, 

Dorothy Reid. 

Director of photography Harry Neumann. ASC 
Technical director E. R. Hickson 

Film editor Russell Schoengarth 

Musical director Edward Kay 

Cast: Marcia Mae Jones, Jackie Moran, Char- 
lotte Wynters, Grant Withers, George Cleve- 
land, Clara Blandick, Marvin Stephens. Run- 
ning time, 70 minutes. 

Reviewed by Bert Harlen 
TEARFUL talc comes from Mono- 
gram in this drama of an orphan 
farm lad reaching for the light but im- 
peded and harassed by a very un-un- 
derstanding uncle. The uncle is one of 
the meanest white men you will have 
seen, works the boy hard, yet calls him 
worthless, beats him on the least provo- 
cation, and even makes him quit school, 
one of his few delights, because it in- 
terferes with his tasks on the farm. The 
gall of disappointment is given us in 
large measure when the youngster, hav- 
ing looked forward for days to attend- 
ing a basket social and chopped wood 
at nights for a neighbor to earn seventy- 
five cents, is cursorily refused permission 
to go at the last minute. The oppres- 
sion and travail become hard for human 
flesh to bear at times — our flesh. 

A generous scoop of dramatic pepper- 
mints is provided at the end of the bit- 
ter repast, however. The boy having 
fought a couple of thieving tramps, 
uncle suddenly perceives his true worth, 
pats him on the back, and offers to treat 
him like a son henceforth. Not all the 
previous proceedings are ill-flavored, 
moreover. There is a spicing of humor 
here and there and some tender morsels 
of budding young love. I suppose Tom- 
boy comes under the classification of 
naive entertainment. Technically it is 
not badly done. The playing in spots 
is rather good. The rural, homespun 
quality at times is refreshing, and the 
directness and simplicity of the story 
exert an appeal. Yet the piece tends to 
be heavy-handed in its appeal to our 
emotions, and character delineation by 
and large is hardly searching. 

Many May Like It 

<| Now, this may not matter a tittle to 
small town audiences. In fact, these 
gross aspects of the picture may be in 
its favor with such assemblages. The 
picture may clean up in some quarters. 
The hearty farm folk who flock into 
Bethany. Missouri, every Saturday night 


possibly will relist) a snorting weep 
and welcome the catharsis of a livid 
outrage at the uncle’s un-understand- 
ing. My reviewing naturally aims to 
set forth the probable reaction of most 
Spectator readers. 

Young Jackie Moran is a likeable 
lad, and numerous of his scenes, both 
of a heavy and light sort, are effective. 
His best playing is that done in a sim- 
ple way. It seems to me his work would 
benefit by dropping the stock juvenile 
mannerisms in which he indulges now 
and then. Marcia Mae Jones character- 
izes vigorously as the tomboy daughter 
of a retired baseball player, newcomers 
to the rural section. I hear tell the 
Monogram people plan to film some 
further Jones - Moran features. The 
youngsters team well. Charlotte Wyn- 
ters, Grant Withers, George Cleveland, 
Clara Blandick, and Marvin Stephens 
are competent, and young Buddy Pep- 
per effervesces briefly. Direction by Rob- 
ert McGowan is workmanlike. Once 
or twice he could have watched more 
closely the consistency in the emotional 
state of a character between one shot 
and the next. Cinematographer Harry 
Neumann has provided some attractive 
rustic shots. Monogram musical back- 
grounds are improving, musical direc- 
tor here being Edward Kay. The screen 
play was by Marion Orth and Dorothy 
Reid. 

Rather heavy-handed in enlisting our 
sympathy for a central figure, an or- 
phan lad. Characterizations are not 
very subtle. Discriminating patrons 
would consider it naive fare. Small- 
towners — including those who live in 
cities — may think it great stuff. Very 
suitable for children. 


is Two productions are being consid- 
ered by the new Frank Capra-Robert 
Riskin independent production unit fol- 
lowing completion of The Life of John 
Doe, which undertaking is expected to 
reach the shooting stage sometime 
soon. Choice of their ensuing enter- 
prise will lie between Don Quixote and 
Ehe Life of William Shakespeare. This 
latter idea, given the Capra-Riskin 
treatment, should make a fascinating 
film. 


Printing 

Mimeographing 

Multigraphing 

Typeing 

JEANNE EDWARDS 

1655 North Cherokee 
(at Hollywood Blvd.) 

HEmpstead 1969 



PAGE TEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


7 hU Hcllifuccct 

MANY REMAKES ARE SCHEDULED 

WICE told tales — and some thrice 
told ones — will abound in the filmic 
output of the 1940-41 season. The 
past season has seen an increase of these 
remakes, some exploited as such and 
others released with new titles and 
trimmings, but during coming months 
the picture patron forgetful of his titles 
— or deluded by new ones — will be 
scratching his head even more frequent- 
ly than heretofore, trying to recall just 
when and where he has previously en- 
countered characters and situations. 
Among the stories announced for pro- 
duction are Mark of Zorro, The Way 
of All Flesh, The Desert Song, Dulcy, 
The Patent Leather Kid, Down to the 
Sea In Ships, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 
and there are a legion of others. 

A few of these stories, especially 
those done in the silent picture era, are 
not only strong fiction, but possess pos- 
sibilities for further development suffi- 
cient to warrant their again being 
brought to the screen. The musical 
pieces will at least afford some tuneful 
vocalizing and perhaps a bit of dancing. 
By and large, however, there is no jus- 
tification or excuse for the rehashing of 
these stories. Most of the yarns have 
either already been done as well as they 
can be or, ordinary fictional stuff to 
begin with, have been worn threadbare 
by repetitions in motion pictures, dra- 
matic stock, and radio. 

It Seems But Yesterday 

<1 Who under heaven, for instance, 
wants to see Dulcy again ? Dr. Jekyll 
and Mr. Hyde, though a fine story, 
was given such an outstanding produc- 
tion, and this such a short time ago, 
that the memory of it must be vivid in 
the minds of all who saw it. Person- 
ally, I can recall individual scenes be- 
tween Fredric March and Miriam Hop- 
kins. What these remakes do is to 
convert the screen from a creative and 
imaginative medium into a sort of stock 
company. The mass of these stories 
will only further disappoint or weary 
the public. They have an insidiously 
bad effect on picture-goers, too, in that 
they convey the impression that the 
film industry is reaching the end of its 
rope, so to speak, as far as having any- 
thing new to say is concerned. Which, 
of course, is far from the truth. 

That a dearth of story material ex- 
ists, however, is apparently the firm be- 
lief of some film executives. Economy 
could not be a real motive behind the 
deluge of remakes. Original material 
could be bought for what will be paid 
to screen writers for revamping most of 
the scripts with new dialogue and situ- 
ations. The story as a rule is a com- 


paratively small part of production cost, 
anyway. 

There Is No Story Shortage 

What is really lacking is not poten- 
tial story material but the discernment 
to see the potentiality of material avail- 
able. Both studio reading departments 
and the executives need to reorder and 
clarify the standards by which they 
judge the suitability of stories. Few of 
the outstanding successes of recent years 
which were adapted from plays or nov- 
els would have gotten past the first 
reader as an original script. Would 
Grapes of Wrath ? Or Gone With the 
Wind ? Or Stage Door l These stories 
were filmed only because the public had 
already evinced a strong interest in 
them. But a wide range of suitable 
screen material not the current rage is 
available. 

Aside from original scripts, the writ- 
ing of which has never been fostered by 
the studios as it should have been, there 
are overlooked possibilities among the 
classics, as well as among current novels 
and short stories. Moreover, there is a 
wealth of material reposing in dusty 
drawers at the studios, scripts from the 
earlier silent picture days. Off hand I 
can call to mind four obscure stories 
from the period of the early twenties 
that would make capital talking pic- 
tures. A recital of them will be forth- 
coming upon receipt of a penny post- 
card. 

* * * 

WANTED— A "BEEG" WOMAN 

G EORGE O’BRIEN, back from a 
25,000-mile tour of South America 
via airplane, reports the Latins find our 
screen heroines insufficient, not in his- 
trionic talent, mind you, but in bulk. 
As quoted in the New York Times the 
actor says, “The natives scorn Holly- 
wood women as too frail. It’s having 
a real effect in increasing the popularity 
of Argentine-made pictures, which are 
replacing the Hollywood product. An 
exhibitor in La Paz, Bolivia, said sneer- 
ingly but earnestly about the feminine 
lead in one of my recent films: ‘You 

are a beeg man, Meester O’Brien. You 
need a beeg woman.’ 

* * =!= 

DALTONS WILL RIDE AGAIN 

C OME May, the Universal people will 
start their cameras grinding on When 
the Daltons Rode, which, of course, 
will be an enactment of that dramatic 
raid of the daring Dalton gang on the 
financial reserves of Coffeyville, Kansas, 
the five men holding up two banks at 
once. The picturization will be of par- 
ticular interest to me, not only because 
the account of the exciting raid was al- 


BY 

BERT HARLEN 


ternated with Mother Goose and Little 
Red Riding Hood — at my own insist- 
ence, I must admit — when a youngster, 
but also because it was in Coffeyville 
that this Harlen person first saw the 
light of day. 

The tale has now become a legend in 
those parts, one which survives with 
especial vividness in my family, since 
nearly all of them, in one way or an- 
other, were involved in the event. 
Mater, then a child, saw the outlaws 
riding into town, five abreast, at an 
unhurried, steady trot. In the great 
gun fracas ^hat ensued — the town had 
been warned that the notorious Dal- 
tons were coming and was prepared for 
them — grandfather saw the man beside 
him keel over, and, loosing his head, 
ran into a livery stable and hid his 
watch in a stack of hay. Two aunts, 
out buggy riding, heard the Daltons 
were in town and, for protection, fol- 
lowed a man ahead of them on horse- 
back. The man was the wounded Em- 
mett, only one of the three brothers to 
escape with his life. 

Later the family en masse saw the 
other men stretched out with their boots 
off, grandfather possibly thinking that 
the spectacle would be an object lesson. 
Emmett, incidentally, then only 19, 
not only reformed but became some- 
thing of a reformer. It is on his auto- 
biography that the Universal film will 
be based. 

* * * 

AN ITEM ON ODORS 

O N HIS amusing radio program Ho 
Hum, during which he reads items 
from his “snoozepaper,” George Apple- 
gate informed us the other evening that 
an inventor in Europe has perfected a 
device that adds the stimulus of scent 
to screen fare. If a garden scene is pic- 
tured, the spectator is favored with the 
fragrant aroma of flowers. If the locale 
is a hospital, the drama is heightened 
by the pungency of ether. But really, 
Mr. Applegate, was that crack very 
nice about many pictures not needing 
the gentleman’s scent invention? 


'&■ Kansas City audiences have got out 
of hand in their revolt against bore- 
some “supporting’’ features. It has be- 
come a fad to mock and jeer through- 
out their running. Villains are up- 
roariously applauded, the more mirth- 
ful-minded spectators arise and shout 
quips at the performers. More fun — 
except for the exhibitor. 
ir Spectator advertising attracts a max- 
imum of attention from people who 
really count. Its pages are read, not 
merely skimmed. Its readers comprise 
the most constructive minds in the in- 
dustry. 


MAY 1, 1940 


PAGE ELEVEN 


BY 

HOWARD WALTER FISK 


Ike iiAtenincf PoAt 


COMMENTS ON SOME HOLLYWOOD PROGRAMS 


PASSING PARADE — Mon., 8 p.m., KECA. 
Here is the one-man show which tops all 
one-man shows. John Nesbitt’s style is 
different, his material engrossing, his ad- 
mirers legions. Formerly on KHJ, Nes- 
bitt has been on and off the air many 
times, but like the India rubber man he 
bounces back higher and higher. 

BURNS AND ALLEN — Wed.. 7:30 p.m.. 
KNX. This program will be the subject 
of the analytical review in next issue. 
Some folks swear by this team, others 
swear at them. I happen not to like it 
and will try to tell why. 

I WAS THERE — Sun., 7 p.m.. KNX. Here 
is a program with a swell idea behind it. 
It has always impressed me that the show 
is being handled somewhat like a stepchild. 
With proper grooming, not so obvious 
writing and more production care it could 
go from a "for free" spot to a sponsor 
of money and merit — with emphasis on 
both money and merit. 

FLETCHER WILEY— Mon., through Fri„ 
10:30 a.m.. KNX. The "chief of staff" 
of the Housewives' Protective League woke 
up with an idea one morning, several 
years ago, and ran the idea from a few 
miles of wordy workout once a week to 
a cross country jaunt. He goes coast-to- 
coast now. He breaks all recognized rules 
of radio delivery, jumps from subject to 
subject like a newscaster who dropped his 


copy and is reading while picking up the 
sheets. But he has a large local following 
and his material always has something 
which provokes thought. May his na- 
tional success also be gratifying to him 
and his sponsors. 

I WANT A DIVORCE— Sun., 8:30 p.m., 
KFI. This show has two of the most 
capable men in Hollywood radio as its 
helmsmen. Van Fleming writes the air 
adaptations of big name stories, and suc- 
ceeds in avoiding a "pulp fiction" atmos- 
phere. Van is sincere in his work. Wil- 
liam Lawrence directs it. and for my 
money Bill is one of the most sympathetic 
producers in the business. Given a spon- 
sor who would pay the bills and give hint 
a free hand. Bill could make most any of 
them sit up and take notice. The casts of 
/ Want a Divorce arc uniformly good. I 
have always thought the idea behind the 
show smelled just a bit. 

TUNE UP TIME— KNX. Andre Kostel- 
lanetz and his music. Tony Martin as 
soloist. There just isn’t any better com- 
bination for an enjoyable show. The 
Firestone program is similar in its set- 
up but it lacks the color and person- 
ality which Kostelanetz gets into his 
program. One cannot compare Richard 
Crooks and Tony Martin because they 
are different in their vocal styles. Suffice 
it to say that Tony is more important in 
his field than Crooks is in his. 


Daylight Saving Time is now in effect in many cities from which your favorite programs 
originate, thus many Hollywood programs have been shifted. Check with your newspaper for 
correct times on programs not mentioned here. 


(This is the fourth of a senes of an- 
alytical reviews of programs originating 
in Hollywood.) 

F ROM a chummy dinner to a chiller- 
diller is quite a jump for a radio 
author to make, but Carleton Morse 
does it each week with practically no 
effort at all. Therefore, this issue’s re- 
view will consider One Man’s Family 
and I Love a Mystery more or less as 
a single offering. In the first place, the 
same man writes both. In the second 
place, virtually the same cast enacts 
them. For instance, Paul. Nickie and 
Jack of the Tribe of Barbour turn up 
as Packard, Reggie and Doc in the you- 
kill-me-or-ITl-kill-you series. In a les- 
ser degree Claudia, Hazel, Betty, et al, 
of the Barbour female contingent, stand 
by to fill the girl-to-be-saved roles when 
the Three Comrades need an incentive 
to do deeds of valour. 

The fact that both shows carry many 
of the same people has, to a great de- 
gree, lessened my interest in them. For 
five or six years several millions of us 
became good friends of the Barbours. 
We laughed with them, we exulted 
with them, we worried with them. Sev- 
eral times it just happened that some- 
thing got in my eye, and I called for 
a very large hankie, when some of the 
more tragic events descended upon them. 

New Voices and Old 

•I At any rate, I have never been able 
to accept the Three Comrades as being 
other than the Barbour boys playing 
cops and robbers. I have never made 
inquiry as to why Morse put the Bar- 
bours into the chill show, but he made 
me mad when he did it. One reason I 
was irked is as stated above — I cannot 
and will not believe the said comrades 
are the real McCoy. Another is that 
Morse, who has a genius for casting 
radio roles — and in evidence I submit 
the priceless antique dealer in the cur- 
rent Morse mystery — could have (and 
should have) spread the work around. 
If by now the readers of this column do 
not know that I have a great antipathy 
for too many shows having too many 
of the same people on them, this is just 
as good a time to find it out as any. 
Radio's greatest asset, as far as its talent 
appeal is concerned, is voices. 

When the same people appear on 
show after show — no matter how good 
they may be — it gets a little tiresome. 
Sort of like having ham and beans at 
every meal. Morse could have found in 
the great wealth of radio talent in Hol- 
lywood, actors who could do the job 
as well as those now doing it. Further- 
more, it would have saved me much 
confusion. As it is I have to think 


twice to remember whether it is time 
for my Tenderleaf Tea or Fleischman's 
High Vitamin Yeast three times daily. 

Hokum and Hacks 

•J In the face of considerable adverse 
opinion from radio writers and that 
small portion of the listening public 
with whom I come in contact, I hereby 
proclaim it is my belief that Carleton 
Morse writes the best radio heard on 
the air today. True, he is very wordy. 
True, One Man’s Family has little or 
no plot (as plots go in Hollywood). 
True, I Love a Mystery is hokum with 
a capital hoke. Likewise, it is true that 
in the tidal wave of words which he 
pours out each week is the soundest 
psychology underlying anything on the 
air. It is also true that your life and 
mine are not built on the lines of a 
predetermined story idea in a magazine. 
That is why the Barbours are so well 
liked by millions. Again it is true that 
the listener will accept a lot of hokum 
if he is led to believe the characters 
could be real people. 

Now, of course, Morse is in a most 
enviable position — a position which he 


created by virtue of his talents — in that 
he is responsible to no one for what he 
writes or how he produces it. His spon- 
sors have confidence in his excellent 
taste, in his desire to give his public 
radio drama that is, even in his blood 
and thunder, deeply colored with the 
tones of semi-classical music. Were all 
sponsors as broad-minded there might 
be more fine radio writers instead of the 
vast number of hacks that radio is de- 
veloping. These writers do not want 
to be hacks. They want to write what 
is popularly termed “good stuff." I do 
not say highbrow stuff ; I say good stuff. 

No "Slick" Field 

C[ Radio has yet to develop a “slick” 
field. The greater portion of its writ- 
ing is “pulp.” When a writer gets a 
“slick” idea and develops it to where 
it should have full color illustrations, 
the producer, sponsor (or heaven knows 
who) will yell. “The public won't 
like it”; and the net result is a good 
writing job run through a deglossing 
process and coming out with bad pen 
and ink sketches to dress up a story 
that has been re-written “down” to a 
moron's I. Q. It makes it most discour- 


PAGE TWELVE 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


aging. M -we, Dovever, nac no such 
problem. 

In answer to those who believe that 
the public is an ignorant herd who pre- 
fer tripe to Tenderleaf Tea, I submit 
as an added exhibit, this laboratory 
test: The next time Morse has Paul 

Barbour read a lengthy excerpt from a 
current book, even if it happens already 
to be a best seller, just check with your 
weekly book review pages, from coast to 
coast, and see what happens. If you 
listen carefully and quietly you will be 
able to hear the book's publisher offer- 
ing this addendum to his nightly pray- 
er, “And God bless Carleton for men- 
tioning my book.’’ I have made that 
observation several times. When, if 
and as I complete my great American 
novel — on which I have been meditat- 
ing for fifteen years or more — one of 
its most important passages will be 
written just in the hope that Paul Bar- 
bour will use it. Of course, there would 
be no mercenary thought in connection 
with such a plan. No — not a bit of it. 

I merely want Paul to think the pas- 
sage worthy of public reading, and if 
that sells ten thousand additional copies 
— well, can I prevent it? Would I if 
I could? 

:*C jfc ifc 

WHAT? NO ADMISSIONS? 

ILLIAM CARSON, of North Hol- 
lywood, writes: “Aren’t you be- 

ing sort of like a little tin god, telling 
people what is good and what is not 
good in radio? You don't pay to hear 
the shows, you get free tickets to broad- 
casts, if you want them, and yet you 
seem to think that you should review 
a radio program as though you had 
planked down $4.40 for an orchestra 
seat (if you have $4.40) . 

Let us take up his items in reverse 
order. Number one: I do not have the 
four-forty. Number two: Radio is a 
new form of art and entertainment 
combined, just as pictures, the stage, 
concerts, books and other cultural and 
semi-cultural endeavors are arts. All 
are indulged in for profit and for pleas- 
ure. That being true, radio should be 
handled in this journal as such. Radio 
is out of its short pants. It has grown 
up. Too fast, perhaps, and too erratic- 
ally; nevertheless, it deserves adult con- 
sideration, sincere and intelligent han- 
dling, and constructive criticism. With 
my best efforts, I am trying to give it 
the latter. 

Who Pays for Radio? 

C| As to Mr. Carson’s third point, I 
do pay admission to radio shows. Each 
time I buy any product advertised on 
the radio, I pay a certain proportion of 
its cost to me as advertising. Take 
Blank-Blank coffee, for instance. We 
use two pounds weekly, 104 pounds 
per year. Two cents per pound is 


charged to advertising on the radio. 
That is my admission to Blank-Blank's 
radio program. But, you say, you get 
a program a week for two cents for 
your whole family. That is true. 

On the other hand think of the hun- 
dreds and hundreds of other radio ad- 
vertised products I buy, the programs 
of which I never hear. I pay for those 
programs, too, but do not avail myself 
of them. They are there, just as Helen 
Hayes is at the theatre, or Clark Gable 
at the neighborhood movie. I do not 
have to go, unless I choose. I do not 
have to listen unless I want to. But — 
whether I listen or not — I pay. That 
fact gives me the right to be an arm 
chair critic of any program, large or 
small, and of airing my criticism via 
the Spectator, just as critics of other 
arts make a living giving their views. 

One more point: It is quite true that 
if it were not for radio, and other forms 
of advertising, the products I buy would 
be less universally used and would cost 
more than they do under mass produc- 
tion methods. In which case, it is ques- 
tionable whether I would buy as much 
of them as I do. So, do not come back 
with the argument that the savings I 
make because of wide use of products 
destroys my above contention. You 
know — and you, and you, and you — 
that mass production, newspaper and 
radio advertising, bulk distribution and 
other merchandising methods make for 
greater gross profits, even though the 
per package cost is less. Who pays for 
radio? Who pays the hidden taxes? I 
do, and you, and you, and you — 

* * % 

ODDS AND ENDS 

Have you ever noticed that Mel Ruick 
of Lux Radio Theatre often sounds so 
much like C. B. DeM., that it is hard 
to tell them apart, and that Earnest 
Chappell on Campbell Playhouse sounds 
like — you know who? I would men- 
tion who “Who" is, but he has been 
in this column so frequently I have 
been accused of being subsidized by him. 

5*C 

When Benny Rubin was doing his 
Yankee Doodle laugh as m.c. at Grau- 
man’s Egyptian, he was one of my 
favorites. He still is, and a more ver- 
satile character delineator cannot be 
found for radio. His Refugee on the 
Lum ’n’ Abner benefit was top flight 
reading. 

* * * 

Quite often I find myself wanting 
to hear The White Fires of Inspira- 
tion which KNX used to put on. Jon 
Slott wrote it, Ralph Scott produced, 
and White Fires was among the best 
programs ever to come out of Holly- 
wood. Obviously, the program was un- 
sponsored, because — for some unknown 


reason — the best programs always are 
unsponsored, unless they have a come- 
dian, a dummy, or a torch singer on 
them, or all three. 

* * * 

Honestly, I am amazed at the recep- 
tion which this department has received 
at the hands of those who are in or on 
the fringe of radio. Naturally, those 
are the people it is written for — not for 
the average reader. If said average read- 
er gets pleasure, so much the better. 
Some of those who have expressed opin- 
ions have quite openly stated that they 
thought this was a terrible column. 
Some have said they thought it was 
quite good. Opinion, to date, is about 
twp to one in favor of the latter. 

* * * 

John Fee has, for quite some time, 
urged that Mark Hellinger’s short 
stories would make the basis of a good 
program. I hope the new Old Gold 
show will reward John with frequent 
roles in the Hellinger dramatizations. 
He is a good, experienced, intelligent 
actor. 

* * * 

To M. A.: You are wrong. I do 

not dislike John Conte. On the con- 
trary, along with hundreds of other 
radio and semi-radio people, I think he 
is one of the grandest persons in the 
business. I just think he is heard on 

too many programs for his own good. 

* * * 

Leith Stevens, musical director for 
Big Town, has been given the baton to 
direct the Ford Summer Hour. Stevens 
is one of radio’s finest conductors, spon- 
sored or for fun. 

5fc 5{C Jjc 

Congratulations to Irving Parker for 
good sense in handling his clients' pub- 
licity. His copy is always welcome on 
this desk. 


ir Another famous American legend 
will reach the screen with the filming of 
Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy 
Hollow, announced for production by 
Edward Small. 


HOLLYWOOD DOG 
TRAINING SCHOOL 


Carl Spitz, Owner 
Fritz Bache, Manager 


Phone 12350 Riverside Drive 

North Holly. 1262 No. Hollywood, Calif. 



MAY 1, 1940 


PAGE THIRTEEN 


£cckA an4 JilftiA [NA ROBERTS 


The "Shun" Out of Education 

<J One of the good things about book- 
film cooperation is that, for busy peo- 
ple, it can "take the shun out of edu- 
cation." Seeing films keeps one in touch 
with an important phase of current 
events; reading books connecting with 
films not only does this; it also adds, 
without effort, to education, to a knowl- 
edge of the past. It adds to background; 
it can also provide a background where 
none was before. Now a background 
is not necessarily highbrow; it is mere- 
ly a rich accumulation of bits of infor- 
mation that serve to illumine one's read- 
ing. Who will deny that allusions add 
greatly to the delight of books. I well 
remember, when typing parts for the 
Hecht - MacArthur play, The Front 
Page, coming across the following de- 
scription of a character's manner in a 
certain crisis; "with the air of a man 
carrying a message to Garcia." 

Parents should be especially grateful 
to films for their inspiration to young 
people toward good reading. What 
boy, for instance, having seen Young 
Tom Edison, could fail to enjoy the 
subsequent reading of The Boy's Life 
of Edison, by Meadowcroft ; Edison: 
His Life, Work and Genius, by Si- 
monds; 48 Million Horses, by Neill, 
and How They Blazed the Way. by 
McSpadden ? 

No parent should miss reading My 
Son, My Son!, the novel by Spring nor 
the film made from it. Its lesson to 
parents is poignant, compelling. Con- 
necting books are Sorrell and Son, by 
Deeping; Fortitude, by Walpole; State 
Fair, by Stong; The Golden Cord, by 
Deeping; So Big, by Ferber: Father and 
Son, by McEvoy, and Getting Ready to 
be a Father, by Corbin. You will be a 
better parent for having read these books 
and perhaps be spared, in later years, 
an anguish of regret. 

Florian offers a wealth of connecting 
books to those who love horses or bal- 
let, in addition to its historical appeal. 
There is the book from which the film 
was made, Florian, by Salten: also Sal- 
ten’s other books. There is that old 
favorite, Black Beauty, by Sewell, for 
which a new generation is always ready; 
there are Animal Heroes, by Seton ; Ben 
the Battle Horse, by Dyer; The Sorrel 
Stallion, by Grew, and for the children 
from six to eight years, Blaze and the 
Forest Fire, by Anderson. The ballet 
angle of the film suggests many books, 
of which I will mention one — Foot- 
notes to the Ballet, assembled by Caryl 
Brahms. 

I am indebted to Miss Jean Sexton, 
of the Cleveland Public Library, for 


the following suggested reading in con- 
nection with Northwest Passage: North- 
west Passage, by Roberts; The Black 
Hunter and The Plains of Abraham, 
by Curwood; Next to Valour, by Jen- 
nings; Black Forest ( Minnigerode) , 
The Cold Journey (Stone), Journal of 
Robert Rogers (reprinted from Bulletin 
of the New York Public Library), and 
The Red Road, by Pendexter. 

Travel Via Feature Film 

<J Nowadays you may see in feature 
films reproductions of a lot of famous 
spots here and there. 

For Pride and Prejudice, many scenes 
were filmed in the famous $1,000,000 
Busch Gardens in Pasadena. 

In Personal History, retitled Foreign 
Correspondent , you may view a repro- 
duction of the train sheds of London’s 
Waterloo railway station with, for 
good measure, 500 players dressed in 
English summer clothes. 

CURRENT FILMS 

And It All Came True — Story by Louis 
Bromfield; George Raft. Ann Sheridan, 
Humphrey Bogart, Jeffrey Lynn. Warner 

Angel from Texas — Comedy; Eddie Al- 
bert, Ronald Reagan. Warner 

The Bluebird — Play by Maurice Maeter- 
linck; technicolor; Shirley Temple; re- 
leased 3-22. 20th-Fox 

Dark Command — Novel by W. R. Bur- 
nett; Walter Pidgeon, Claire Trevor, 

John Wayne. Repub. 

French 'Without Tears — Play by Terrence 

Rattigan; released 4-1. Para. 

Florian — Novel by Felix Salten; Robert 

Young. MGM 

Forty Little Mothers — Novel by Edward 
Fadiman; Eddie Canton, Rita John- 
son, Bonita Granville. MGM 

Gone With the Wind — Novel by Mar- 
garet Mitchell; Leslie Howard, Vivien 
Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havil- 
land. MGM 

Grapes of Wrath — Novel by John Stein- 
beck: Henry Fonda. Jane Darwell, 

Doris Bondon. Zeffie Tilbury, Charlie 
Grapewin; released 2-2. 20th-Fox 

House of the Seven Gables — Novel by 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. Univ. 

I Married Adventure — Filmed in Africa; 

Mrs. Osa Martin; released 1-27. Col. 

Irene — Musical comedy hit; screen play 
by Alice Duer Miller; Anna Neagle, 

Ray Milland; released 4-5. RKO 

My Son. My Son!-— Novel by Howard 
Spring; Brian Aherne, Louise Hay- 
ward; released 3-22. U.A. 

Northwest Passage — Novel by Kenneth 
Roberts; Spencer Tracy, Wallace Beery, 

Robert Taylor. MGM 

Pinocchio — Juvenile by C. Collodi; fea- 
ture cartoon; Walt Disney. RKO 

Primrose Path — Based on novel, Febru- 
ary Hill, by Victoria Lincoln; Ginger 
Rogers, Joel McCrea; released 3-23. RKO 
Too Many Husbands — Play by Somerset 
Maugham; Melvyn Douglas. Jean Aus- 
tin. Col. 

Virginia City — Technicolor; Errol Flynn, 

Brenda Marshall, Frank McHugh. Warner 


We Shall Meet Again — George Brent, 

Merle Oberon, Gene Lockhart. Warner 

Young Tom Edison — Mickey Rooney, 

Virginia Weidler, Victor Killian. MGM 

COMING FILMS 

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Play by Robert 
Sherwood: Raymond Massey, Gene 


Lockhart. RKO 

Alias the Deacon — Bob Burns. Peggy 

Moran. Univ. 

And So Goodbye — Story by Mildred Cram 
and Adele Commandini; Jean Parker, 

Chas. Winninger, Harry Carey, C. Au- 
brey Smith, Maria Ouspenskaya. RKO 

Andy Hardy Meets a Debutant — Hardy 

Family. MGM 

Ann of Windy Poplars — Girls’ story by 

L. M. Montgomery. RKO 

Bill of Divorcement — Play by Clemence 
Dane; Maureen O'Hara, Adolphe Men- 
jou. Fay Bainter. RKO 

Edison the Man — Spencer Tracy. MGM 

The Ghost Breaker — Play by Paul Dickey 
and Chas. Stoddard; Bob Hope, Paul- 
ette Goddard. Para. 

Pride and Prejudice — Novel by Jane 
Austen; Greer Garson, Laurence Oli- 
vier, Maureen O’Sullivan, Heather 
Angel, Ann Rutherford. MGM 

Safari — Madeleine Carroll. Douglas Fair- 
banks. Jr.: released 6-14. 

Story of Lillian Russell — Alice Faye, Ed- 
ward Arnold, Weber and Fields, Eddie 


Foy, Jr. 20th-Fox 

Susan and God — Play by Rachael Croth- 
ers; Fredric March, Joan Crawford. 
Virginia Weidler. MGM 

Those Were the Days — Formerly At Good 

Old Siwash-, novel by George Fitch. Para. 
Turnabout — Novel by Thorne Smith. U.A. 
Twenty Mule Team — Locale, Death Val- 
ley; California borax mines; Wallace 
Beery, Leo Carrillo, Noah Beery, Jr. MGM 
Waterloo Bridge — Play by Robert Sher- 
wood: Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, 

Maria Ouspenskaya, Virginia Field. MGM 
Way of All Flesh — Novel by Samuel But- 
ler; Fritz Leiber, Muriel Angeles, Ber- 
ton Churchill; released 5-31. Para. 



GLadstone 41 I I 


PAGE FOURTEEN 


HOLLYWOOD SPECTATOR 


PRODUCTION 

All This and ti.acen Too — Novel by Ra- 
chael FielJ: Bette Davis. Warner 

Arizona — Novel by C. B. Kelland; tech- 
nicolor. Col. 

Boom Toitn — Famous Panhandle oil dis- 
covery, Texas: Spencer Tracy, Clark 
Gable, Hedy Lamarr. MGM 

Brigham Young — Based on Children of 
God. by Vardis Fisher: screen play 
by Louis Bromfield: Tyrone Power, 

Linda Darnell. 20th-Fox 

Busman's Honeymoon — Novel by Dor- 
othy Sayers; filming in England: Rob- 
ert Montgomery. MGM 

Destiny — Story by Hecht and MacArthur; 

Basil Rathbone, John Howard. Para. 

Foreign Correspondent — ■ Formerly Per- 
sonal History, based on book by Vin- 
cent Sheean: Joel McCrea, Laraine 

Day. U.A. 

Life of Knute Rockne — Pat O'Brien, 

Ronald Reagan. Warner 

Long Voyage Home — Play by Eugene 
O’Neill ; John Wayne. Thomas Mit- 
chell. U.A. 

Lucky Partners — Based on play Bonne 

Chance, by Sacha Guitry. RKO 

Maryland — Early days; Brenda Joyce, 

Walter Brennan. Fay Bainter: Techni- 
color. 20th-Fox 

Maryland — Semi-historical: early days; 

Brenda Joyce. Walter Brennan; tech- 
nicolor. 20th-Fox 

Mortal Storm — Novel by Phyllis Bot- 
tome; Nazi Germany; Margaret Sulla- 
van, James Stewart, Frank Morgan. 

Robert Young. Judith Anderson, Bonita 
Granville. MGM 

Northwest Mounted Police — Gary Coop- 
er, Madeleine Carroll. Para. 


Old Lady 31 — Play by Beulah Bondi; 

Charles Coburn. MGM 

On Their Own — Jones Family. 20th-Fox 

One of the Boston Bullertons — Features 
celebration of Puritans' Founders’ Day; 

Nancy Kelly, Robert Cummings. Univ. 

Our Town — Pulitzer Prize play by 
Thornton Wilder; Thomas Mitchell, 

Fay Bainter. U.A. 

Sea Hawk — Novel by Sabatini; Errol 

Flynn. Warner 

South of Pago Pago — Jon Hall, Frances 

Farmer, Gene Lockhart. U.A. 

Strike Up the Band — -Judy Garland. 

Mickey Rooney. MGM 

Tom Brown’s School Days — Story by 
Thos. Hughes; Sir Cedric Hardwick, 

Freddie Bartholomew. RKO 

To Own the World — Financial struggle 
of young couple to maintain home: 

Lew Ayres, Lana Turner. MGM 

Torrid Zone — Banana industry in South 

America; George Raft, Ann Sheridan. Warner 
Young People — Shirley Temple. 20th-Fox 

★ * ★ 

★ A star of yesteryear will shine again 
when Bing Crosby’s new film, If I Had 
My Way, is placed on view, the erst- 
while star, Blanche Ring, toast of two 
continents shortly after the turn of the 
century. She will do two song num- 
bers, one of which will be Rings On 
My Fingers and Bells On My Toes 
which she made famous and which is 
still a prominent tune in our musical 
lore. 


★ Most rem akes these days are heavily 
embroidered with new story material, 
but Warner Brothers has scheduled a 
remake in which practically everything 
will be new but the title — Disraeli. The 
present picture will deal^witT’an earlier 
I period of the statesman’s life than was 
dealt with in the George Arliss film 
of a few years back, which, it will be 
recalled, did exceedingly well at the box- 
office. 

T T T 

A Ben Hecht is film producing again, 
having acquired the wherewithal and 
launched a unit in the East. 


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PAGE FIFTEEN 


































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Scanned from the collection of 
Karl Thiede 


Coordinated by the 

Media History Digital Library 
www.mediahistoryproject.org 


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